Sunday, July 24, 2005

How Not to Keep a Job

Fascinating article in the NYT Magazine, The Rabbi Who Loved Evangelicals (and Vice Versa) . It tells the story of Yechial Eckstein, an orthodox rabbi who is head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which rallies evangelical (financial) support for Israel. The article is ambigious about the worth and Jewishness of his mission, but Eckstein is redeemed somewhat by his treatment of new hire Rios:

"Eckstein nodded. He says he is certain that evangelical Christians want nothing more than to bless Israel, and he is frustrated by his continuing inability to get his fellow Jews to practice what he calls the Four A's: Awareness that evangelicals are helping Israel; Acknowledgment of that help; Appreciation; and Attitude Change. There has been progress on the first two, and No. 3 is coming along, but attitude change remains elusive. ''I want more than a tactical alliance,'' Eckstein said. ''I'm looking for genuine fellowship. And the Jewish community is nowhere near that.''

Bauer's analysis of the problem is political. ''A lot of this is hostility from Jews who just can't stand conservatives,'' he said. ''It trumps even their support for Israel.''

''Jews tend to demonize evangelicals,'' Eckstein said sadly.

''And not the other way around?'' I asked.

Eckstein shrugged. ''Not really. No.''

Throughout this conversation, Rios was clearly eager to join in. And as soon as there was a pause in the discussion, she did. ''You know,'' she said, ''the truth is, Christians do want to convert Jews.''

Eckstein and Mamo exchanged glances. ''Not by some bait-and-switch trick,'' she said. ''But we believe it's part of God's plan.'' Eckstein winced the way he had when Pastor Munsey called him a born-again Christian.

''Anyway,'' Rios said, ''we love Jews, notwithstanding their rudeness and hatred for us.''

Three days later, Eckstein called me in New York. Rios had been fired, but her gaffe, and the impression it made, was still on his mind. ''It's really my fault,'' he said. ''Hiring staff is a problem. Truthfully, it's extremely hard to find people who understand exactly what we're doing here.'' "

Obviously not the best thing to say to your boss the Rabbi.


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