Yellow Pages Judaism
This story, from today's NY Times, is a good one. Apparently, a man who does public relations for a Reform temple was looking into buying ad space in the yellow Pages. Upon his perusal of the phone book, he found some entries for "Temples - Jewish - Messianic". His reaction:
Mr. Lubetkin said he was appalled. Like many non-Messianic Jews, he believes that one cannot worship Jesus - or Yeshua, as the Messianic Jews call him - and still be a Jew.Predictably, the spiritual leader of the messianic temple is not pleased with their demotion by the Yellow Pages.
"It's like if I went to Verizon and said I wanted to be listed as a neurosurgeon, or a Roman Catholic church," said Mr. Lubetkin, 48, who is neither. "I suspect they'd have a problem with that."
Mr. Lubetkin complained to the phone company. And so it came to pass that Verizon's 2006 Camden County SuperPages will sort its listings into "Synagogues" and "Synagogues - Messianic."
The rabbi of one of the Messianic synagogues listed in the Camden County book, Jan Rosenberg, who learned about the change only on Tuesday from a reporter, was upset that he had not been consulted.Further, a representative from the Yellow Pages makes it clear that contrary to Mr. Lubetkin's assertion about not being able to define oneself in the Yellow Pages if one doesn't fit that category, the directory has no such policy:
"I don't like the idea of somebody outside our congregation trying to define me," said Rabbi Rosenberg, who heads Congregation Beth Zion Messianic Synagogue in Jackson, N.J. "You self-define."
...Rabbi Rosenberg said it would be only fair for him to call Verizon and say, "The Methodist Church - I don't want them listed under churches. Put them under 'Synagogue of Satan.' " He hastened to add that he had no intention of making such a call.
In fact, Ms. De La Garza said, in the SuperPages, self-definition is the rule. Given the impossibility - and inappropriateness, she said - of Verizon investigating all of its advertisers, the company allows them to choose the heading they are listed under.I have to say, maybe I'm wrong, but I am perfectly willing to let the messianic temple define themselves as whatever they wish in the Yellow Pages, of all places. What's important to me is how I define them. It's not as if they were listed under the broader term "Temples - Jewish", with no further classification. It was very clearly labeled as a messianic temple. I don't think Mr. Lubetkin would be very happy were the tables turned on him, and extreme Ultra-Orthodox Jews would start calling the Yellow Pages to have Reform temples taken out of the "Temples - Jewish" section as well, because a Reform temple doesn't fit their standards of a Jewish Temple. Not a very likely scenario, but one that defines how idiotic Mr. Lubetkin's quest is. The real question is why the Yellow Pages company ceded to his request.
What's more, she added, "If the laundry list of headings doesn't fit, and it makes sense that the best way that our users can find that client is to create a new heading, we'd try to accommodate that."
This means that Rabbi Rosenberg could elect to be listed under "Synagogues," rather than "Synagogues - Messianic." Or he could request that Verizon reinstate the "Synagogues - Jewish - Messianic" heading.