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Minyan Equality Generally Denounced

The decision by the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative rabbis and a member together with Orthodox and Reform Judaism in the U.S. in the Synagogue Council of America, to count women equally with men for a minyan was sharply denounced today by Rabbi Moshe Sherer. The executive president of the Agudath Israel of America said the action “should be the final straw to move Orthodox groups out of the Synagogue Council of America.” He said the decision “demonstrates the failure of the contention that such interdenominational affiliation contains the non-Orthodox from further deviation from halacha.”

Rabbi Sherer said the decision was “another step in the constant erosion of Jewish law and tradition perpetrated by the Conservative movement.” He added, “The Jewish woman who is steeped in tradition does not need this new ‘right,’ and the Jewish woman for whom halacha is meaningless, will not be brought closer to our spiritual root because of this ‘right.’ “

Rabbi Louis Bernstein, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the Orthodox rabbinic body, declared: “The latest Conservative act is a move of desperation to attract new worshippers Many of its earlier innovations have proved a total failure and the average Conservative synagogue is still fighting for its spiritual survival.” Denouncing the Conservative move as a breach of halacha, he added, “The fact is that Judaism demands the separation of the sexes at worship which, in and of itself, precludes the concept of a mixed minyan.”

HERTZBERG HAILS DECISION AS WELCOME MOVE

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress who is a Conservative rabbi, hailed the action as “a most welcome development that underscores the equality of the sexes.” He said he hoped the innovation “will be adopted by other branches of Judaism, as well,” and that it will be “a major step toward removing all other restrictions that have for too long served to diminish both the rights and responsibilities of Jewish women toward the faith and practice of Judaism.” He also expressed hopes that “Jewish women who have long and rightfully demanded equal opportunity to participate in the minyan will recognize the obligation it now imposes on them to come regularly to the synagogue to pray.”

Rabbi David Hollander, president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, denounced the decision as “reckless, worthless and insulting to the Torah.” He explained that the decision was reckless because it came after a majority vote and was not based on halacha. He said it was worthless because it would not increase attendance at Conservative congregations “where all kinds of experiments and gimmicks have proved useless.” He claimed that it was insulting to the Torah “because to imply that Torah Judaism is insensitive to the honor, dignity and respect of women is to cast an aspersion on the whole edifice of Jewish tradition.”

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