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Yeshiva U. agrees to ordain student it rebuked over ‘partnership minyan’

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NEW YORK (JTA) — Yeshiva University said it will grant rabbinic ordination to a student after previously threatening to withhold it stemming from his having once hosted a so-called “partnership minyan.”

“An agreement has been reached and the student will be receiving Semikha,” Rabbi Yosef Blau, a senior counselor at Y.U.’s seminary, told the Forward in an email, referring to ordination.

The Forward received confirmation of the move from the university’s media relations director.

In a partnership minyan, women lead many aspects of the Sabbath service and are called to the Torah. Most halachic sources prohibit the practice, including Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at Y.U.’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, or RIETS.

Rabbi Menachem Penner, acting dean of RIETS, had previously sent a letter to the student ordering him not to participate in partnership minyans “nor create a public impression that he supports such activities in normative practice,” The New York Jewish Week reported Thursday. The letter was posted on The Jewish Channel’s website.

The student, who is identified as Shalom in the letter dated Jan. 13, has chosen to remain anonymous. He told The Jewish Week that he had intended to host the partnership minyan at his home only once at the request of his then-ailing wife.

The letter indicated that the student will not be a “musmach,” or graduate, of the seminary unless he is able to subscribe to the principles laid out therein, including to “defer, in matters of normative practice, to the opinions of recognized poskim,” or decisors of Jewish law.

News of the letter spurred objections from some Modern Orthodox rabbis.

Y.U. and RIETS issued a statement late on Thursday saying that the student could receive ordination next month.

“To be clear, the issue at hand has never been just about partnership minyanim, nor was there consideration of condemning or punishing a student for a single misdeed,” the statement said.

Rather, the statement continued, the partnership minyan issue spurred discussions that raised questions about whether the student’s views of the Jewish legal, or halachic, process were consistent with those of the seminary’s faculty, which does not consider such minyans valid.

Ultimately, the statement concluded, an agreement was reached with the student “reflective of his commitment to the principles of our institution.”

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