I’m hoping to join a synagogue again (I haven’t attended one since my bat mitzvah). For background: I was brought up within the reform movement. While I have visited others, i.e., Masorti, Orthodox – I have a natural preference in the reform direction.
Yesterday, I (F27) thought I’d enquire at a local synagogue which I had previously noticed while walking in my local area.
After speaking to a friendly security guard/administrator through the intercom, I was let in and signalled in the direction of the rabbi, who was walking roughly in my direction. I proceed to introduce myself, we exchange hello’s, and I then stick out my hand to shake his…
Suddenly he shoots me a look of what I can only describe as mild contempt, and in a tone I could only fathom as stifled irritation, he stands steadfast and says, “No.”, leaving my hand awkwardly lingering in the space between us for a good few seconds. Then he says, in this same tone, “I do not touch girls.”
It’s hard to describe, but I felt as if I was both looked down upon, yet also handled with complete indifference. I have never before felt so uncomfortable near a rabbi.
Obviously, it quickly came to mind that I had evidently not entered a reform synagogue grounds*. I am aware of halakha; only I wondered how a rabbi could come across so heedless..
*(I found out today that it was United).
Is such coldness typical? As a man who regularly studies Torah and leads a community, I hoped that he could have afforded a bit more grace/cordiality. My previous rabbi’s have had a warm demeanour, but perhaps I am looking from a more reform jewish angle.