Defends RCA


Recent Letters to the Editor by leaders of the Open Orthodox movement (April 15) argue
that there is a need for PORAT, the new organization presenting itself as
Modern Orthodox, due to the exclusion of PORAT’s projected constituency
from institutional Modern Orthodoxy, as represented by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and other
organs. These letters criticize the RCA for denying admittance to some people
based on their institutional affiliations (i.e., the rabbinical schools they
attended), and they castigate the RCA for not catering to those who have
identified with groups that have adopted certain religious innovations.

This criticism is extremely unfair. The RCA has and continues to maintain
halachic standards as articulated by the most preeminent rabbinic leaders of
the generation, such as Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of the past generation
and Rabbis Hershel Schachter and Mordechai Willig of the present generation. The fact that certain groupings around the Orthodox orbit have parted ways
with the norm and innovated new and controversial halachic practices, such as
the ordination of women rabbis and modified conversion standards, does not
mean that the RCA or any organ within normative Orthodoxy must sanction this
and reform its contours to meet the demands of those who introduced these

The complaints by these letter writers should instead be directed to the
groupings that they represent, which have created a new movement that rejects
many of the values and practices of normative Orthodoxy, yet insist on full
representation at the organs which that new movement has rejected.

Orthodoxy must be inclusive, but not at the expense of its core teachings and
core practices, and not by rejecting the traditions passed down and
articulated by its most scholarly and prominent rabbinic leaders.

(Although I am a member of the RCA Executive Committee, I do not speak for
the RCA; my letter represents my opinion only.)