Sunday, 11 May 2008

JC Power List

Spare a thought for the JC in their list of most powerful Jews in the UK. (How best to describe it? Knackers nominating kackers, vice versa or remove the 'n' from the nominators as well as the nominees?) Last year they almost totally ignored the frum community so this year they had to make even greater fools of themselves by going over the top. Please don't patronise us by putting Pinter at 8 and that oaf Lobenstein in the top 30 and in future don't omit us either.

Before getting into the details, what was Michoel Posen doing on the panel with reform and liberal Jews? Did he ask a sha'ale? And may we know whom he asked? Anyhow nice to know that hypocrisy is alive and kicking and while reform is treif in the Ben Yitzchok column, one need only mention power or money (cf. Holocaust restitution committees) and they become bedfellow Jews for even the holiest.

Now to the funny bit which got me tickled. Uncle Joe bless him may be an elder statesman of our community, something of a joke to some, an irritable old aunt to others, but power? You must be kidding. Unless arranging pre-Pesach refuse collections counts as moving and shaking. But then there is 'Rabbi' Pinter, the epithet there simply because he added it to his letterhead and his media friends have blindly reprinted it. His father may have headed a shul which is now led by his brother so they would have deserved the title, but let's pass over that one.

Does he have power? Undoubtedly he does. He spearheaded the magnificent school on Egerton Road and for all the criticism of him, a lot of it legitimate and, dare I say, justified, he nonetheless deserves credit for what he has done. He brought the PM at the time to the opening of the school which was surely his finest moment. So he obviously has a degree of power. But no. 8 in the list? Do me a favour. Unless it was media types nominating those who court them and pander to them or it was act of compensation for last year's omission, the only reason I can think of is that Posen pushed him to the top and the others went along blindly.

And what about the double standards? It's no secret that if anyone tried to act as a 'bridge' between our ivory tower and the rest of mankind he or she can forget about a place for their kids in Pinter's school. This last point may make him something of a local tyrant but if anything enhances his power. So to be generous to the JC this too may have earned him a few brownie points.

He has little grassroot support because despite his good work he is an outsider in the very community he purports to represent. He rarely raises a voice at communal events despite being so ready to lend his voice to almost anyone from the outside. Yes, he is a voice of the community in that he doesn't put the phone down with a 'no comment' as most others do. But his voice includes views on The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which goes to prove that in a community where no one will speak to them, the press will quote anyone who bothers to part his lips. 'Rabbi Pinter: Can we have your views on climate change? the Jewish position on the Olympic Torch? and Rabbi Pinter, I hope you don't mind one final question, off the record of course, but what is the preferred Jewish method of contraception?'

OK, perhaps I'm too harsh on him and after all he didn't nominate himself or at least I hope so. He must be down as his friend Ken, who Pinter must be the only one to consider a friend of the Jews, has been voted out and he has yet to be seen smiling in the company of Boris. But then at number 8 it'll probably be Boris who shall be calling him.

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