Reform rabbi bullied over political views

The contemporary trend of silencing Right-wing voices seems to have reached Reform leadership, where the Right is a minority- of one? Op-ed.

Angela Van Der Pluym ,

Alan Sherman
Alan Sherman

Rabbi Alan Sherman is a Reform Rabbi in southern Florida who is openly supporting President Donald J. Trump. Due to this support - which is common in the Centrist Modern and Haredi Orthodox rabbinate - he is being bullied by other reform, conservative, and reconstructionist Rabbis in the area.

According to him, “This Board of Rabbis consists of 1,500 rabbis and I am the only outspoken Trump supporting Republican in the group.” He is a former Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran who has served his community for over forty years. His service to the community has garnered him high praise in the form of numerous awards and profile pieces celebrating his contributions. Rabbi Sherman is a proud member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Judeo-Christian Republican Club.

If you support one party you can get away with pretty much anything, if you support another you are condemned.
Rabbi Sherman was the Executive Vice President of the Palm Beach Board of Rabbis for over twenty-five years; retiring in 2012. “I left the board of Rabbis in 2012 and three years later they threw me an honorary dinner and they gave me a nice plaque… that was in 2015, that’s five years ago. So, I started using the term emeritus and nobody said anything about that at all. In 2020, I will get this letter from the executive board of rabbis asking me who gave me that title and told me I should produce evidence in a week’s time to them.”

In the letter the word “emeritus,” seemed to be the cause of concern for the new President of the Board of Rabbis; Greg Weismann. Was it the word or was it because Rabbi Sherman penned an article in favor of Trump and used his earned title? Before sitting down to write this article I wanted to get Rabbi Weismann’s side of the story. He expressed to me:

“I am surprised he [Rabbi Sherman] has gone this way because he and I had a conversation two weeks ago, where it had seemed like we had resolved this issue together. We share in there [the letter] that our only concern with what he wrote was not his opinion but by signing it as the emeritus of the board of rabbis. It implies the board of rabbis endorses his statement… BUT by including emeritus that is where we had an objection. We are not sure if the board ever gave him that title but we object more so because using that title implies, means, he is speaking on behalf of the organization and him offering a political statement in the name of the organization puts us in jeopardy. We are not allowed to take partisan political positions as a non-profit.”

When I related this back to Rabbi Sherman for a follow-up; he felt as though this was just a smoke screen. “They built up this strawman to bully me. What they don’t like is me writing political articles and identifying myself with the board of Rabbis because they are all liberal.”

Rabbi Sherman’s experience with the Board seems to be another such example of the new contemporary trend of silencing right-wing voices. Voices are being silenced and people are being shunned from groups they have been a part of for decades because of their support for the President, Donald J. Trump.

The double standards are not new, but they have never been so glaring and unabashed. If you support one party you can get away with pretty much anything, if you support another you are condemned. Why are we allowing this? Why aren’t we raising our voices to be heard?

Rabbi Sherman tried to get his message out but the liberal news media wasn’t interested in this type of story. After his long service to the community, the country, and his faith he is now being denied his earned right to say he was the former president and vice president emeritus of this organization.

He described to me the double standards within the Reform Movement: Al Starpton was invited to speak despite his history of incitement towards Jews as in the Crown Heights riots, the leader of the Reform Movement itself, Isaac Mayer Wise, is memorialized in statues at Reform Movement schools despite being a man who “tolerated slaves to save the union and called them ‘savages.’” Sherman feels the Board politicizes the exression Tikkun Olam to promote and support left-wing politics while hypocritically claiming to be an apolitical organization when it’s convenient.

Rabbi Sherman and I discussed further this word that is causing so much concern. Emeritus means: a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held. He explained, “I retired on favorable standing. They threw me an honorary party. They gave me a plaque. They didn’t have anything to say about me using the title for five years.”

“He is hiding behind the world emeritus to amplify this. He hides behind this word which means nothing. It does not imply I’m speaking on behalf of the organization. It’s something that’s attached to an individual. I now say past president, does this now mean I represent the board?”

Lastly, he informed me that, “members of the board are openly active in liberal organizations like J-Street and T’ruah.” The Board of Rabbis has also made its own political comments against Trump in the past. They even received a letter applauding the [Reform Movement] Central Conference of American Rabbis for refusing to take the President’s call to wish them a Happy New Year.

Provided by Rabbi Sherman; A letter to the editor

Angela Van Der Plym is Young Adult Cabinet Leader of Herut North America.