There is a raging discussion going on in the Rabbi Listserve about where are, or who are, the great scholars of the Reform Jewish movement, who are quotable and should be regularly quoted. Since I think the whole discussion is a bit inane, and because it is Purim, the holy day when we can make fun of everything and anything, I wrote the following and sent it to all of my colleagues on the listserve:
From: Paul Kipnes
Subject: My Favorite Quotable Reform Movement Greats
I have been thinking a lot about my esteemed colleague Dan Fink’s post about where are all the shining quotable stars of the Reform Movement. I have been reflecting upon the thinkers whose ideas influenced me the most, as I pursued my studies and as I built my rabbinate. I thought of all the great books we were assigned in rabbinic school (that I bought but didn’t read), and the lectures I attended (and slept through). It led me to identify the great quotable Reform Jewish greats.
I’d like to suggest that we are overlooking some of the most thoughtful, quotable, quoted people right here in our midst.
For example, me.
Am I a shining star? If you ask my mom and dad, they will offer their unbiased opinion that I am one of our movement’s shining stars. In fact, whenever any scholar visits their synagogue, my dad goes up to them and tells them that I am his son. They always say they know me and think I am wonderful (most of those people have never heard of me before). And my mom regularly places me on her list of top 25 pulpit rabbis, an unpublished scientific study rivaling Newsweek’s list.
Am I quoted regularly? No less than once or twice a day, one of my kids (usually when I am not home) – when caught doing something that they probably shouldn’t have done – can be heard saying “dad said we could.” “Dad,” incidentally, is what they call me. Comparable to “Rambam” or “Sforno”. And my congregants similarly quote me saying “the rabbi said we could do this or that.”
Is my quotability a recent phenomenon? When I was a kid, and we would get in trouble, my siblings would regularly say that I told them to do it. This shows that my quotability goes back decades. Plus, it shows that people listen to me and remember what I have to say. And that I influence their behavior. And, another sign I am famous, that there is a hagiography surrounding me: I don’t really think I said all the things I have been blamed for over the years.
Finally, if you google me, my name shows up alot. Not in books, but who reads them anyway.
So stop worrying about whether we have enough quotable dead white Jewish rabbi guys. You have your own quotable boring white Jewish rabbi guy right here.
Oh, and, happy Purim.