A traumatic scene at Magen David

This is very sad for me to write on the eve of Tisha B'Av.

On July 7, 2018 I had a bad feeling about going to shul. I told my husband, "There's going to be a fight there today."

He said, "You're being dramatic."

The rabbi was not there when I arrived. Several emails had circulated the prior week related to the rabbi deciding to leave. The first email showed up and then a second one purported to correct it.

I sat in my usual spot reading the Chumash and felt the eerie quiet in the shul. It definitely felt like something bad was going to happen.

All of a sudden toward the end of the service, the rabbi showed up and began "holding court." He was shaking hands and hugging people.

He arrived alone.

Security showed up and walked into my row, at the end of the row, in the women's section. I felt alarmed and did not understand what was going on. My husband motioned to me to join him in the men's section, as women are welcomed to do when services are over.

I walked forward and sat next to my husband. The shul president stood to give the Announcements. All of a sudden the rabbi jumped up and seemed to jostle the shul president. He said, over and over: "I want a chance to say goodbye."

I felt scared at what I was seeing. I did not understand that he had already resigned as the rabbi. The last thing I'd heard was that he had agreed to renew his contract, but was not happy.

The next thing I heard was that there would be a special session of the Board to discuss this. Somehow I thought they were going to do so in shul, and then was told that a separate meeting was planned outside synagogue services.

The rabbi kept repeating that he wanted to talk, and the synagogue president kept telling him, politely, to sit down and wait his turn. People were screaming, "Let him speak! Let him speak!"

I was horrified that this was happening before the Ark of God. That the scene was taking place in what was essentially a money dispute, a contract dispute. It was awful.

The rabbi took a seat in front, on the side. I walked toward him. I wanted to look him right in the eyes. And I did so--furious. He looked at me, then looked away, wearily. 

My husband pulled me back to my seat.

At that point an individual I know started screaming in the back of the shul. It was almost like she was making a social-political protest. I heard her yell, "Trump supporters!" (I am not sure why she did that) and then they dragged her out of the synagogue.

This person is not Jewish, but she attends the shul semi-occasionally. Her behavior was incomprehensible to me. I exclaimed out loud, "She isn't even Jewish!” 

"Don't dignify her behavior with a response," one woman responded.

Prior to this, the same person had emailed me to ask when the Board meeting was. I hadn't understood why. Now I did.

After this scene someone turned to the young man who was supposed to give the D'var Torah. He walked out, saying, "I won't be a part of this."

Finally they gave the rabbi a chance to speak. When he walked up to the podium, I stood up and walked out.

This scene upset me greatly, and I even had a nightmare about it. But since the story has reached the media, I feel it is important to share.

Magen David is a wonderful shul; we are so fortunate to have found this gem of a place, and these amazing people, who made me want to come back and rejoin the Jewish community again.

The rabbi and his family have done much good during their time here.

May God save our people from the churban of divisive hatred.

Links:
July 18, 2018
http://washingtonjewishweek.com/47250/questions-linger-over-ovadias-sudden-departure-from-magen-david/news/

July 12, 2018
http://www.kolhabirah.com/index.php/2017-02-23-04-28-07/community-news/1515-rabbi-haim-ovadia-of-magen-david-sephardic-congregation-resigns
__________
Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Photo of MDSC via Wikipedia. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magen_David_Sephardic_Congregation_07.jpg