More About Rabbi Fried and 8th St. Shul
Date: May 17, 2008 11:21PM
Now Rabbi Fried is another of these outreach workers I was associated with. In fact he saw a lot of potential in me and promoted me to Assistant Rabbi in the 8th St. Shul. I was also the music director there and I watched the Shul as the Narcotics Anonymous group met there. I gave lectures there and supervised people’s behavior. I also gave mussar or ethical feedback.
Rabbi Fried is basically a nice guy but he is somewhat, well, he doesn’t really have his feet on the ground which figures because he’s a Carlebach styled hippie and he and I always were on good terms. He really is quite knowledgeable and I have some issues with him but he’s a good egg.
As I mentioned elsewhere Rabbi Fried got busted on medicinal marijuana charges and had to do probation. He is OK now.
Now, the 8th St. was also being used as a kosher homeless shelter. The rabbi told me that he saved about 15 people from the streets and because they were in a house of God they got Social Security and Welfare Benefits quickly. But the people who owned the deed to the synagogue complained that we turned the shul into a “flop house.”
But the problem here was that we really weren’t geared up to be a shelter and Rabbi Fried kept putting up signs that he was going to kick people out by such and such a date. He kept giving extensions mercifully. But the signs also said if you still need a place “Talk to Rabbi Fried.” What he could tell them I don’t’ know to this day.
We had a soup kitchen and Rabbi Fried wanted to do more but we had minimal backing from the greater Jewish community in the area. And the rabbi paid all the bills
. One day, we married a young couple that was very poor. Rabbi Fried figured that the husband would find a job eventually, which he did, and then we would get paid. Well, they never paid us a dime.
I sang and played Shlomo Carlebach nigunnim until my hands killed me from fingering the guitar and I got nothing but feedback by some Ultra type who kept asking for more, more, more no matter how much I sang and played. “Can you do another nice Carlebach song for me?” It was another classic case of “I could never be good enough for the movement”
We had rules like not insulting people so of course one guy called me an Apikorsus (Epicurean which is a type of heretic who leaves the faith to live “The life of Riley”) about 14 times a night. Anyway, I survived.
Over the years the rabbi kept coming up with schemes for me to make money, usually involving sales and I am not a good salesperson even on Ebay. So, I told him off a few times.
Once he wanted me to live in a rent-free basement apartment in Brooklyn, supervised by him and I would have to tell the landlord that I was “a recent Baal Teshuva.” I told him, “Look, I am not a recent BT. I did that almost 30 years ago and I don’t even keep kosher anymore.”
Also after the way the 8th St. folded and after Rabbi Fried mismanaged trying to get me into OHEL Children’s and Family Services I told him off about that too. I simply put am better off elsewhere.
I met the rabbi over by the Munkatcher synagogue in Boro Park several times and I realized how much of a misfit I am in those circles. I simply put, never wanted to be like that in recent years.