Rabbi Gabe Elias Knows The Pulse Of Mogen David

Rabbi Elias at Mogen David is a canny operator. He thinks things out many steps ahead of the pack. He’s skilled at anticipating underhanded behavior. He can read it from a mile away. He can out-maneuver you if he wants to.

Mogen David has a huge endowment and it can operate off the interest from its endowment.

It became a separate-seating Orthodox shul in 2001, bringing in 30-year old Rabbi Johnathan Muskat who lasted less than two years.

Prior to that, it was one of the last mixed-seating Orthodox shuls in the United States. It was to the left of every shul in the neighborhood.

Rabbi Muskat was too religious for the shul. He didn’t want to permit mixed-sex dancing and the like.

Many young rabbis have these sorts of problems. They lack the life experience of dealing with people who are different from them. You’re not going to change some 80-year old who wants mixed dancing.

I wonder what happens when Beth Jacob and Bnai David and the like rent themselves out for marriages? Surely these marriages do mixed-dancing in the shuls after dinner? Renting a shul for a wedding cost a tenth of what renting a place at a nice Los Angeles hotel such as the Four Seasons.

Rabbi Elias, by contrast, knows the pulse of Mogen David. He’s brought in a Sephardic minyan. He used to host the Happy Minyan at Mogen David. He hosted Rabbi Toledano’s dayschool for Sephardic kids. He keeps the place hopping even though much of his membership is old and irascible.

When you control a huge endowment, a rabbi such as Gabe Elias has a lot of pull in the community. Nobody wants to tick you off.

According to his online bio: "Ordained at Yeshiva Beth Midrash Lerabonim, be has worked as Executive Director and Assistant Rabbi for Congregation Mogen David for the last 16 years."

If you want to start criticizing semichas (rabbinic ordination), you can start with anything coming out of Yeshiva University in the past 25 years. The semicha is given by finishing courses. They don’t face a comprehensive test. The course tests are based only on what is given in shiur. The tests are recycled and passed around. Even Lakewood these days does testing by section.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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