Friday, March 8, 2013

Pictures of You, Pictures of Me

Pictures of me were posted on Facebook…without my permission.  Not really a news story, but I was very upset.

I have a friend who does intelligence and hates that people can take his picture and put in anywhere without his permission.  He hates it even more when his name is tagged.  To be fair, he has an extreme James Bond complex and is certain that any picture of him will help Dr. No identify him.  I get that.  I, too, am a fan of 007.

But, my picture problem was a religious issue.

Prior to life cycle events, I ask families to avoid taking pictures in synagogue. 

Why?  Like most Conservative rabbis, I have a problem with the many halakhic implications of film photography; and as a person who does not like electricity on Shabbat, I have no love for digital either.  I run a Conservative standard for a community that includes Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.

Additionally – and perhaps more importantly, flash photography is annoying when you are trying to create a spiritual moment.  For me, the simple answer is just don’t take pictures now.  For others, the answer is to take pictures covertly so that the rabbi doesn’t notice.

I, however, forgot to give the shpiel.

We had a semi-Bar Mitzvah this past weekend.  One of our youths turned 13 and can now be counted in a minyan.  I gave him an aliyah.  I refused to call it a Bar Mitzvah because the boy was not even close to prepared.  He will have another Bar Mitzvah on a date to be named later.  But because I was doing everything to make sure we had a Saturday morning minyan while maintaining this was not a thing, I forgot to tell people not to take pictures.  Chaval.

Within hours, the facebook page of the Jewish Community of Okinawa had me from three different camera positions.  There were definitely some flashes in the room.  And a couple shots that were really unflattering.

But my biggest problem was a religious issue.  Pictures were taken and there is nothing I can do about that, but I do not condone such activity nor do I want it to happen again.  So I asked the parties to take the pictures down.

[Insert expletive] I offended somebody.

We worked it out because we actively sought to understand each other’s positions and because we are cordial beings.  But it got dicey in there.  I was certain that I was going to lose another congregant or two.  But all is good.

The pictures are down.  But Passover (another photo-op) is on the horizon… (just 2 weeks away!!)

Finally, to close the previous saga in my life: I have passed my oral boards for the Fleet Marine Force Qualification, and now I’m a real Chaplain to Marines.  Very little has changed, but I should soon have some nice swag (a big shiny pin) so I will be happy.  I’m still freaking out, but about other things now (see above).

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