NEW YORK (Jul. 2)
Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said today that he expected “a number” of members would leave the NYBR “without fur-ther ado” in response to adoption of its resolution Friday barring membership to rabbis who either officiate at mixed marriages or refer to colleagues couples seeking a rabbi for that purpose
Rabbi Joseph Glaser, executive vice-president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform rabbinate, who said at the meeting he planned to challenge the legality of the vote for the resolution in civil court, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he had been told that letters of resignation by CCAR members were “pouring’ into the NYBR office.
Rabbi Glaser said many of those resigning were Reform rabbis who were not in violation of the membership ban but who were “disgusted” by it. Rabbi Glaser called the resolution “shortsighted” and predicted it would lead to the “dissolution” of the NYBR, which represents Orthodox, Conservative and Reform members.
‘HONOR SYSTEM’ WILL BE USED
Rabbi Berkowitz stressed that the NYBR had no plans at present to set up machinery to expel members who refuse to end such officiating or such referrals, He said it was expected that “a kind of honor system” would prevail which would make such machinery unnecessary.
Rabbi Berkowitz confirmed reports that the failure of the 84th annual CCAR convention last month to vote a ban on such officiating by its members led to the NYBR meeting Friday and approval of the membership ban, which he said was “unprecedented” for such an organization of rabbis. The CCAR delegates approved a resolution strongly opposing such officiating by members but also approved an amendment upholding the CCAR’s standing position that each member had the right to act in such matters in accordance with his interpretation of Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Berkowitz said he had discussed briefly at the meeting with Rabbi Glaser the latten’s statement he would challenge the ruling in civil court. Rabbi Glaser told the JTA that he was “extremely reluctant” to bring the issue into civil court and would prefer to have it handled by a Beth Din (rabbinical court) if one could be arranged which would be “objective.”
Rabbi Glaser said he had discussed his plans with CCAR officers before placing the matter before his attorney on how to handle such a suit. But he said he would act as a private member of the NYBR, and not as an official of the CCAR. He said he would probably seek a class action suit for an injunction against the resolution on grounds that the vote was allegedly conducted improperly
ORTHODOX BODY URGED TO QUIT ‘MIXED RELIGIOUS GROUPS’
The mixed marriage issue was raised today by the Rabbinical Alliance of America, an Orthodox group opposed to Orthodox participation in any organization that includes representatives of Reform and Conservative Jewry.
The Alliance issued a statement assailing the Rabbinical Council of America, another group of Orthodox rabbis, for adopting a resolution at its convention last week which called on members to dissociate themselves from rabbinic bodies that perform mixed marriages. The Rabbinical Alliance charged that the resolution was based on “the unavoidable and dangerous implication” that if the “non-Orthodox clergy” do not perform mixed marriages, “all their other actions that are clearly contrary to the Torah can be overlooked.”
The Rabbinical Alliance claimed that even opposition to mixed marriages which are “the sole target” of the Rabbinical Council’s resolution would accomplish nothing as long as the Council continues its association with the NYBR, the Synagogue Council of America “and other similar mixed religious groups”