Group Formed in the RA to Continue Opposition to Ordination of Women
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Group Formed in the RA to Continue Opposition to Ordination of Women

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More than 100 Conservative rabbis who attended the 80th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly at Kiamesha lake last week decided to form a Halachic Fellowship of the Rabbinical Assembly, it was reported by Rabbi David Feldman of Brooklyn. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that one of the goals of the Fellowship is continued opposition to the ordination of women as rabbis.

Feldman said the Fellow ship was organized last Tuesday night, hours after the delegates, approved by a vote of 155-115 a resolution endorsing such ordination, the first RA convention to take such action.

The delegates, after hours of heated debate, also called on the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) faculty senate, which voted last Dec. 20 to approve an indefinite suspension of action on the ordination proposal, to reactivate the proposal and take action on it. The debate and actions at the convention indicated that the much-discussed and much-disputed issue of ordination of women would continue to be an unresolved problem in Conservative Judaism.

Feldman said almost half of those participating in the Tuesday vote for approval of women to be rabbinical candidates acted to form the Fellowship out of the conviction that ordination of women and other crucial issues must be deliberated through traditional Halachic process.

The body in Conservative Judaism for implementation of that process is the RA Committee on Jewish Low and Standards, whose chairman is Rabbi Seymour Siegel, Ralph Simon Professor of Ethics and Theology at the JTS. Siegel told the JTA, after the Tuesday vote, that "this vote will certainly influence the members of the faculty senate to reverse the decision last year and approve the admission of women to the program of ordination" at the JTS.


Rabbi Ronald Price, a Fellowship regional chairman, told the JTA that members of the Fellowship proposed that "a nine-member panel be commissioned by the Incoming president to study and evaluate the rules and procedures of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards." The new president is Rabbi Seymour Cohen of Chicago, who had served as vice president of the RA. He succeeded Rabbi Saul Teplitz of Woodmere, N.Y.

Under RA convention rules, a minimum of signatures of 10 members is required to bring to the floor by the opening day of a convention any resolution not provisionally approved previously by the resolutions committee and sent to RA members before each RA convention for their study and consideration at the next convention. Each convention has several sessions on resolutions.

When the delegates came to the resolutions session on Wednesday, the last day of the 80th convention, they were handed a sheet of paper which included both the texts of a formal resolution reporting favorably on the work of the Committee on Law and Standards and the proposal from the opposition proposing the nine-member panel.

Delegates then moved to combines the resolutions by including the call for a special panel which would be instructed to report back in writing to the RA no later than Jan. 1, 1981.


Price said a Fellowship steering committee and national and regional chairmen were chosen at the initial meeting of the Fellowship and that "many more" RA members were expected to join the Fellowship. He also said four national chairmen were chosen-Rabbis Man is Friedmag of Valley Stream, N.Y.; Irwin Groner of Detroit; Marton Waldman of Jackson Heights, N.Y.; and David Algaze of Forest Hills, N.Y.

Price also said that a number of regional conferences are being planned to discuss ordination of women and other issues and that the primary goal of the fellowship is "to discuss how Halacha should develop."

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