The ordination of three Orthodox women on Sunday was billed as a historic event, but for much of the Orthodox world the move represents a dangerous break with tradition — if not an outright violation of Jewish law. More ▸
The incoming president of the Modern Orthodox rabbinical school says he wants to maintain the school’s outreach-oriented approach while gaining broader acceptance from Orthodoxy’s religious right wing. More ▸
Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Chicago is set to succeed Rabbi Avi Weiss next year at the helm of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the liberal Orthodox rabbinical school founded by Weiss. More ▸
Penn State has shown us that silence can reflect the greatest abuse of the power of sport, but the Olympians in London can be true examples of a silence that can raise a voice of moral conscience, write two rabbis. More ▸
By Sue Fishkoff
The Jim Joseph Foundation made a $3 million challenge grant to the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School — the 5-year-old foundation’s first direct grant to a rabbinical school. More ▸
As I noted yesterday, getting a handle on the limits of female leadership in the Orthodox community is nearly impossible. The Modern Orthodox rabbinate has no clear policy on the issue. The haredi leadership has issued a dismissive press release and called it a day.
So where’s the liberal Orthodox rabbinate? The International Rabbinic Fellowship, an association created as a more "open" alternative to the mainstream Rabbinical Council of America, issued this statement on women’s leadership.
We view as encouraging the most recent efforts to bridge gaps within various segments of modern Orthodox rabbinic leadership. In this regard we salute the Rabbinical Council of America and Rabbi Avi Weiss for working together to strike a compromise that preserved shalom in the Orthodox community.
At the same time, we affirm that attempts to delegitimize rabbis and synagogues for the positions they take on this debate go against the spirit of respectful and meaningful conversation.
In that vein we affirm that engaging women to serve in a various forms of congregational and communal religious and spiritual leadership is in accordance with the Halacha and Orthodox practice.
So, to recap. Agudath Israel of America says an Orthodox synagogue cannot have a woman in a "rabbinical position of any sort." The RCA, speaking in an affirmative voice, says it supports women in "appropriate leadership roles." And now the IRF says women should be able to fill "various forms of congregational and communal religious and spiritual leadership."
Clearly, Agudath Israel and the IRF are on a collision course, but beyond that it’s impossible to know what any of these statements means in practice. The RCA has hedged, which I suppose is to be expected if they’re currently formulating a position. The interesting thing to watch for is how the RCA negotiates between its left and right flanks. Hard to see from here how they’ll say anything specific and substantive about women in leadership without one party declaring them off the reservation.
The RCA conference is scheduled for April 25 in Scarsdale, N.Y.
Full statement after the jump. More ▸
On Sunday morning, Rabba Sara Hurwitz had her first chance to address the world at length following the recent controversy over her title. (For a quick primer, see here.) If I had to come up with a headline, it’s probably Hurwitz’s statement that, if a title is going to get the community all riled up,… More ▸
On the eve of a conference marking the expansion of leadership roles for women within Orthodoxy, the trend’s most prominent rabbinic proponent has backtracked from his near-ordination of female rabbis amid intense criticism. More ▸
By JTA Staff
Rabbi Avi Weiss has backed away from the idea of ordaining women as Orthodox rabbis under the term “rabba.” More ▸
By JTA Mailman
To the Editor: It is nothing if not a sign of Agudath Israel’s and the RCA’s fear of losing their political power over establishment Orthodoxy that has them so flummoxed by the existence of a woman, Rabbah Sara Hurwitz, that it would be hilarious if it were not so awfully sad. The time for thinking… More ▸