Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk



Synagogue and Church Fighters: The Righteous Ones


People of all ages and genders have the need to belong, to be seen, heard and to be recognized. Infants do it by screaming, and children by their behavior, be it positive or negative. Adults look for status, to be someone, to be unique. There are innumerable ways of gaining recognition, to be loved, honored and noticed in one fashion or another. Some do it by contributing their skills, their money, or their abilities. They do it through their accomplishments or the honors that their offspring are achieving or have achieved: My son the doctor, or my daughter the immaculate homemaker, my granddaughter the "full fledged bookkeeper". They do it by having their name or their picture in the newspaper, or by violence toward their fellow man, such as was exhibited by "Bucky" Phillips. Yet others find their needs met by becoming board members and/or office holders in voluntary organizations. These are the folks we will here discuss. They are the (“Stützen der Gesellschaft”) pillars of society. Their actions and their voices can be heard above the crowd; they stand out.  They have found an alternative status.  They may feel important or unimportant but they know they are right under any and all circumstances.  They may give suggestions or directives in an insistent fashion no matter what the topic at hand. They enjoy looking for flaws in others, especially those who are weak and in those at the helm, the clergy.  They criticize their minister or rabbi and indulge in name calling.  The Rabbi (and Minister) are excellent targets for the actions of these pillars.  They are insulted if the man/woman does not greet them.  They will examine a word, a phrase or a sentence that he has utilized in his sermon, criticize him and spread the word throughout the congregation.  They will fault his wife, the imperfections of his children, his “inappropriate” dress or demeanor, the content of his sermons and the inappropriateness of his behavior or gaze toward one or another of his congregants.  They will insist that he must be alerted to his shortcomings and they will be gleeful if their insights are followed and angry if they are not.  They will go so far as changing congregations that are more in line with their “beliefs”.  There is no end to the amount of honors (Koveds) that they need and they don’t hesitate in attempting to get these insatiable desires.  They attempt to determine the clergyman’s fate and whether he should be retained and for how long or brief should be his tenure.

The important individuals will usually join the board and become president, chairmen or committee people of the Board of Directors or of the Brotherhood or Sisterhood.  They even direct how large a slice of cake should be cut for the after services libation for the participants and they do not hesitate to correct the cake surgeon if she dispenses too large a portion.  They may fight with one of their co-religionists because he or she desecrated the Sabbath by using a cell phone in the hall or by not wearing a headdress when he or she enters the portals of the synagogue.  They may attempt to ridicule the person who has not brought enough of the right foods for the “food barrel” and may scrutinize what people contribute or not contribute to certain causes.  Basically they consider themselves the Scholiachs (messengers) of the Almighty, they must therefore carry out those tasks that are too numerous for Him to do.  The messenger of the Lord has much to accomplish and he or she just knows that he is the Chosen One.  These folks can cause so much dissension in a congregation that it is not infrequent that the Synagogue (or church) will disintegrate.  Instead of being used for prayer, for comfort, and for socialization, it often is a battleground  for strife and unhappiness for the target of these Important Individuals !!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).