Glazer: My Love / Hate / Love Affair with the Late Rabbi Morris B. Margolies

Ninety year-old Rabbi Morris B. Margolies has died…

Without argument he was the leader of Kansas City’s Jewish people for decades. The Rabbi was a scholar, author, maybe even a bit of a genius. He was a strong advocate for Israel and the rights of people all over the world. As a speaker in this city he was nearly unmatched.

The Rabbi was my friend and sometimes foe over my nearly half century with him.

I have so many good – and not so good – memories of the Rabbi.

Around 1961 I sat in the pulpit with the Rabbi and a group of Hebrew School youngsters, all of us around 7 or maybe 8 years-old. It was one of, if not his first official days of work at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Margolies was a slim, handsome man who did not fit the usual mold of a Rabbi. He looked like a ball player. Later when we got to know each other, he often spoke of wanting at one point to be a pro baseball pitcher. He had the arm for it.

When my parents were divorcing in the late 60’s he came over the house a couple times to try and help stop it. Of course he couldn’t. I blamed him for not doing more, not caring enough, because we didn’t have Oakwood money anymore.

My dad had gone broke and wasn’t big or important in the Jewish financial community.

It was unfair of me to feel that way towards the Rabbi. Later when he taught Hebrew High School, I hated the Jew school. I was a senior by then and was a bit of a tough guy kid – loud, showy and always joking to make my points.

One day Margolies got sick of it, called me out to the hall and laid into me verbally. I got pissed and yelled back, “You don’t give a fuck about me or my family because we’re no longer wealthy. You’re a phony asshole!”

He told me, “Get out! I will let you graduate, but I will not sign your diploma.”

And he didn’t.

It was then that I left the “Jewish Life” altogether.

I was already a non believer in God, but I was proud of Israel for being tough and winning the wars in the Middle East over the Arab Nations. I was also cool with being a Jew.

A week later I was at a Boy Scout meeting – yes, I would later become an Eagle Scout – me, The Glaze, an Eagle. Ha!

After the meeting I went outside with soon-to-be doctor Barry Rose. We were waiting for our parents to pick us up on a Monday night. We were throwing rocks in the creek and one got away from me and busted a car’s windshield. I told Barry, “Well, I better go put a note on the car, so they know I did it but that it was an accident.”

And Barry said, “Craig, that’s Rabbi Margolies car. He’ll think you did that on purpose.”

I never told the Rabbi I was the guilty party for decades.  

In prison, he wrote to me in the 1980’s and we became friends again. Margolies was a decent, sharp, but strict man. When I got out of prison and later moved back to KC, the Rabbi and I would meet once a month at Beth Shalom.

We had heated talks on all sorts of things. He enjoyed my “outlaw” tales but thought it wasn’t the right way to live. No kidding. He did admire my guts and that my brother and I had turned Stanford’s around.

In time, as Margolies got older, he got a bit cranky.

He tried to solve the break-up between my Dad and I in the late 90’s over Stanford and Sons but it didn’t work. That was our last meeting, sadly. He began to wear down, and the meetings stopped.

The Rabbi was a big figure in my early life. I admired him very much and never met a smarter, wiser man. He had no give on his positions, but that’s okay. In many ways I both loved and disliked the man.

Guess he might have been that dad type I always wished I had.

Rabbi Morris B. Margolies was and will always be a great man.

He earned the respect of Kansas City and people throughout the world. He will always have mine.

May his soul rest in peace.

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11 Responses to Glazer: My Love / Hate / Love Affair with the Late Rabbi Morris B. Margolies

  1. harley says:

    The rabbi was a great man and always believed in doing the right thing.
    Glaze…you took the wrong path for part of your life. No need to go into it.
    You expected rabbi to set you straight and change things.
    He may be a holy man but he can’t change how you live your life..
    only you can do that.
    move on du de….you’ve got too much good road ahead in your travels.
    If you thought rabbi m was only into the money..you were very very very
    wrong about his life.
    keep the faith.

  2. paulwilsonkc says:

    Right after my divorce I spent a good deal of time at B’nai Jehudah. It fit me really well, I liked Rabbi Zedek a lot, and on one occasion I had the chance to Margolies there. He seemed like a great man and I enjoyed our visit. Looking back on it, knowing what I came to know later, I don’t even know why he would have been at B’nai Jehudah as I don’t think he and Zedek saw eye to eye on many things.

    I admire his interest in trying to help and his desire to in trying to effect a change, but people don’t always listen. It’s like the old question;

    “How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.”

    And so it goes….

  3. mike says:

    He sounds like a great man who held firm to his principles. There are too few people like that in this world. May he rest in peace.

  4. harley says:

    Smille people. The suns out. The weather is nice. The world is more
    beautiful than the world our parents struggled thru.
    We’re living better than any generation ever in the world…with more
    opportunities than any other people anywhere anytime in the world.
    So stop all the gloom and doom. Democracy just took place and that doesn’t
    happen in many other parts of the world. We held an election…people expressed
    their votes. I’ve been involved in many many many losing elections…going
    back to 1980. Its tough to lose…it’s even harder to win.
    So everytime someone writes about how bad it is i want to scream.
    How bad is it….anyone can express their thoughts on this laptop…you can
    communicate with the world…our kids will live to be 100…medical
    science will allow us to be 80 but feel like we[re 40….were living the
    dream like never before.
    Glaze is a perfect example. Been down and out. Madea few wrong turns.
    But the guy brushes himself off…gets up…does it again. And the guy has
    a never say die attitude…no matter how bad it gets.
    A rabbi…pastor…priest can’t change a person…it comes from inside.
    If you thnk negative…you get negative.
    if you think positive…you get positive things…
    so just becasue we’re all growing older…doesn’t mean we have to
    feel older…feel down….or look on the dark side of everything.
    I knew rabbi m…great man…more importantly was the words he
    said that permeated every religion….every holy book….the belief that

    WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES…ANOTHER DOOR OPENS!!!!!!

    he told me that many many many years ago and its truer today than ever
    before….smile! lets get moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jim says:

      Harley, unless you are fortunate enough to be in the top 5% of this country’s wage earners, you are NOT better off than you were 40 years ago. This fact is not up for debate. The bottom 80% have seen their wages remain stagnant or decline in the last 40 years. This is a result of an economic policy designed to make the rich, richer. The 40 years previous to that, the top 1%’ers wealth increased at roughly the same rate as everyone else’s.

      In 1970, the uber wealthy’s take on all income in the USE was 2%. Today, it’s 8%.

      In 1980, the average CEO made 50 times the average worker’s pay. Today, it’s 300 times as much.

      There will never be a middle class in this country ever again. When the top 1% hold nearly 50% of ALL wealth in the country, they are doomed for extinction.

      • harley says:

        yes…i know the stats….i have read them…seen them..
        but i never bet against the u.s.a…
        this country can stabilize the middle class…
        reember jim we heard the same thing in the 70’s and
        80’s….but as the labor market gets tighter…more openings
        than people to fill them (see 60 mintues this sunday?…with
        regards to chuck (lol)) wges will goup and we can get back
        what weall want.
        america is booming…the energy policy we havein place
        will put america above saudi oil production by 2016…
        and with hope and change america can be the
        shining city on the hill forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Your math stinks says:

        I’m better off than I was 40 years ago.

        Why? I was nine.

  5. the dude says:

    So a Rabbi, a priest and a buddhist monk enter the bar to attempt to help change Glazer’s ‘outlaw ways’…

  6. Rick Nichols says:

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust –
    It matters not, Gentile or Jew;
    But if not Christ, then who do you trust
    To “plead your case” once the journey’s through?

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