In reference to “Liberal Orthodox Yeshiva Says It Will Not Ordain Gay Student” (April 5), I believe staff writer Shira Hanau and The Jewish Week have continued their tradition of trying to get a diversity of perspectives and doing their due diligence in their reporting. I am grateful for their work.
To speak with conviction about a situation that is private is dangerous. I therefore can only speak to what I know with certainty.
As a graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), I can say that Rabbi Dov Linzer [the rosh yeshiva and president of YCT] is a Torah scholar, Jewish legal expert and man of impeccable character whose compassion and empathy are among his greatest strengths. This process was not perfect and indeed Rav Linzer himself has deep regrets that this wasn’t done months earlier.
However, Rav Linzer acted with integrity, authenticity and fidelity to halacha. When new information came to light, he felt the terms of the original arrangement were not met and as such he no longer felt comfortable giving Daniel Atwood semicha. Rav Linzer made the only decision that he could make under the circumstances that were presented to him, and God forbid anyone accuse him of acting in fear of the “right-wing” crowd.
We all wish the pain could have been avoided, as the pain is very real. There have been many centuries of trauma that the LGBTQ community has been subjected to and we can imagine this news reopens real wounds. Indeed, the Orthodox community has a lot of work to do in this regard. And, at the same time, to criticize Rav Linzer or YCT now without knowing the details of the situation is foolhardy. YCT has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community to the extent that halacha permits; Rav Linzer chief among them.