Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Voice for Achdus

Rabbi Lenny Matanky - Photo credit: Forward
If there is any man that represents Achdus in the American rabbinate, Rabbi Leonard (Lenny) Matanky is that man.  It is a both a wise choice and tribute to the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) to have chosen the path of Achdus. My sincere congratulations to Rabbi Matanky and the RCA. 

As noted in the Forward article. Rabbi Matanky wears many hats. He is the rabbi of the largest Modern Orthodox Shul in Chicago, and the long term principal of Ida Crown Jewish Academy, an Orthodox coed religious high school. He was also the immediate past president of the CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council) prior to my son in law, Rabbi Micah Greenland, the current president.

What is unique about Rabbi Matanky are his ties to both the left and the right. On the left side of the Orthodox spectrum is his friendship with YCT president, Rabbi Asher Lopatin - as noted in the Forward
Lopatin, a leading figure among the left-wing Modern Orthodox, said that Matanky made efforts to keep Lopatin within the Orthodox fold while both were rabbis in Chicago. “He was very much at the forefront of trying to keep everyone in the big tent,” Lopatin said.
What the article does not mention are his ties to the right. Chicago’s West Rogers Park Eruv was largely built through his efforts. But he was not alone. His partner in building the Eruv was Rabbi Yisroel Zev Cohen. 

Rabbi Cohen is a very strong adherent of the Lakewood Hashkafa. His mentor is Rav Yitzchok Feigelstock, the Rosh HaYeshiva of Long Beach. That is the Yeshiva Rabbi Cohen attended before he became a part of the Lakewood community. Both Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Matanky enjoy tremendous popularity among their constituents. There is no controversy about their relationship.

I wonder how many people in positions of leadership can make that claim? 

I don’t know. Maybe it’s something about Chicago that allows for that kind of Achdus. The fact happens to be that Chiacgo’s Hashkafos run the Gamut of Orthodoxy. From extreme left to extreme right. And yet we all not only get along, we work with each other on common projects. This is not say that we always agree. We definitely do not. We all have our very strong Hashkafic perspectives. But that does not get in the way of Achdus. Which is why you will find the names of wealthy Orthodox philanthropists from all Hashkafos on donation lists of virtually all Orthodox institutions. Telshe, Skokie (HTC), Meor HaTorah, Lubavitch, Ohr Baruch (Satmar) and Ida Crown will see mostly the same list of donors from all Hashkafos on donor lists at their banquets. 

And it isn’t only their donations that unites them. They will actually work together on committees for a wide variety of Orthodox institutions. This is the city that Rabbi Matanky is from. It is the city in which he was raised. And it is the city where he learned his values.

And it Rabbi Matanky’s values that ought to set the standard for all of us. My hat is off to him. I wish him success in his new role as RCA president in this most difficult period of increased divisiveness among us. The RCA and the entire Jewish world will be well served. If anyone can restore Achdus among us, it is Rabbi Lenny Matanky.