Thursday, January 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Series Part 13: After his firing/resignation from his synagogue he announces intention to run for public office

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At 9:27 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

RABBI TO LEAVE SYNAGOGUE, RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE
Sun-Sentinel
October 28, 1988
By CAROL BRZOZOWSKI, Staff Writer

BOCA RATON -- The controversial Rabbi Mordecai Winyarz says he will no longer serve the Boca Raton Synagogue when his contract expires in June.

He is setting his sights instead on an unspecified local political office and on starting what he calls a ''political action center.''

''My primary motivation in this center is very, very clearly that I have very serious aspirations for a political office and a synagogue is not a proper base from which to launch this action,'' the 27-year-old Orthodox rabbi said.

In one of his first interviews after coming to Boca Raton in July 1987, Winyarz said that he wanted to be a ''clanging symbol for God ... Judaism has got to be a moral and social force ... not just to make pronouncements, but to become involved.''

''Every program I ran I had to fight to get through,'' he said. ''It wasn't rejected by the broad membership, but by an internal group.''

When the rabbi protested the visit of Pope John Paul II to Miami in
September 1987, his actions drew criticism from rabbis and priests in interfaith work.

In May, the South County Rabbinical Association had censured Winyarz for ''denigrating'' other congregations, their rabbis and other branches of Judaism. It also accused him of undermining the work of the local kosher board and for raiding synagogues for members.

The association lifted the censure two weeks after issuing it.

When he planned to hold a mock funeral for the Democratic Party, synagogue officials told him they did not want him to use the synagogue for the occasion. He never held the funeral elsewhere, choosing instead to write a story blasting the Democratic Party that ran as a full-page advertisement in the Jewish World.

Dr. Gary Lieber, former corresponding secretary of the synagogue, had said at the time Winyarz was hired that ''we were looking for someone to shake the bushes, to make the synagogue a dynamic place.''

But Lieber now says ''the synagogue's reputation will probably be enhanced by no longer having him as a rabbi.''

There are some people who did not have problems with Winyarz, including the synagogue's new president.

''We got along together very well,'' said Dr. Aaron Kaweblum.

Winyarz said his plans to create a ''synagogue organization'' would include a media center, a political action center, and a Jewish university.

The media center would produce educational audio and video tapes for distribution and would include radio and television programming as well.

''Not in a televangelist way,'' Winyarz added.

The political action center would research and take stands on political issues such as health care and medical malpractice, but would not endorse candidates, Winyarz said.

And the organization also would sponsor a ''full-blown university of Judaism, which is not something a synagogue wants to do,'' Winyarz said.

''The classical Orthodox synagogue is constrictive and narrow. That's not bad. That's just where it is,'' Winyarz said.

 

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