A Sidebar on Limmud

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41 Responses

  1. Rabbi Harry Zeitlin says:

    I’ve never understood the kiruv r’chokim emphasis on the totally alienated while ignoring those attached, albeit to styles of affiliation that leave much to be desired. I personally feel we can’t afford to leave a single Jew behind because we don’t like his or her present affiliation. HaKadosh Boruch Hu hasn’t written off anyone; what’s with our gaivah that any of us can?
    Unavoidably for some, with great pleasure and satisfaction for others, myself especially, it all begins with opening our own hearts, ears and then mouths.

  2. Shades of Gray says:

    A sidebar to this sidebar–the Harvard Law School panel was the subject of a previous Cross Currents post(“Postscript to Parshas Yisro”, February, 2005):

    “Do you ever find representatives of Agudah, Young Israel, and the OU sitting down at a public panel discussion with the rabbinic head of the Reform movement, a department chairman at JTS, and a spokesman for the New Israel Fund? When the Jewish students of Harvard Law ran their yearly event around the issue of “Who is a Jew,”organizations that never officially speak with each other bent the rules for a single venue, and sent representatives to the all-day event, intent on making their voices heard. The format was so openly combative, that the usual objections to implied recognition of heterodoxy melted away”

  3. Manny Saltiel says:

    I just finished reading this excellent piece as loud fireworks shook the skies from the Grove. Coincidence? I think not.

  4. Raymond says:

    Other than strictly religious events like ritual circumcisions, prayer, weddings, and funerals, I just do not understand why anybody in the Orthodox Jewish world would be against going to where the non-Orthodox Jews are, even if those places are on some official panel or another. I strongly suspect that in the vast majority of cases, Jews who are lost, are lost due to ignorance about their own Jewish heritage, rather than from any conscious decisions. Such Jews are so ignorant, that it would never even occur to them to seek out the more traditional, Orthodox Jewish world or to even open up an ArtScroll book. Well, so, if such Jews have no plans to enter our shuls any time soon, why not turn the tables and reach out to them? And even when it comes to this or that official panel, wouldn’t it be almost ideal to have Orthodox Rabbis on such panels, where they would expose their large audiences to Torah-True Judaism for perhaps the first time in their lives? Such events do not have to be seen as debates with the opposition, as much as informational gatherings. Besides, too much insularity is neither psychologically healthy nor intellectually honest.

  5. Toby Katz says:

    R’ YA writes:

    “Yet, our proud, determined refusal to dilute our message brought other dividends. Perhaps it was important that we had to withhold any conferring of legitimacy to the other movements, even at high cost.

    “A large consideration was the message we would be sending to Jews sitting on the fence. Hinting that Conservatism wasn’t so bad, and that its rabbis could trade Torah thoughts with ours, could mean more dropouts from halachic observance.

    “Here in the US, however, there are no more Jews sitting on the fence, no more future sacrifices on the altars of Reform and Conservative. Whoever has been lost was lost many years ago. And those movements are dying.

    “Under these conditions, should we not at least think about relaxing the ban?”


    In other words, since the approach adopted by the gedolim in the past was so successsful, we should now abandon it?!


    My father, R’ Nachman Bulman zt’l, was adamantly opposed to sitting on any kind of joint body with Conform “rabbis,” and held that it was assur even to enter a Conform building. Yet he reached out successfully to thousands of Jews who belonged to the R and C movements, and today the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those he was mekarev are proud bnei Torah living in Jewish communities in Israel and all over the US.

    Hashem asks us only to keep the Torah, not to try to be smarter than the Torah. If fealty to Torah “pushes away” Jews, that’s His problem. But in fact, fealty to Torah does NOT push away Jews, and we don’t have to enter places of tumah in order to sucessfully reach out to our fellow Jews.

    Please note that there is now something we never had in the past, an amazing forum for outreach that has been provided for us by Hashgacha Pratis — a forum that allows us to reach inside every Jewish home and to reach every Jew individually where he lives or works — and that forum is the internet.

  6. dr. bill says:

    rabbi adlerstein, excellent. your assertion that: “We should be able, without any trace of insubordination, to at least inquire about the parameters of the ban.” is more than correct. imho doing otherwise would be akin to someone saying i asked about a ma’areh yesterday, i now know how to deal with ma’arot.

  7. micha says:

    First, just a sidebar about YU: Not every product of YU can be assumed to be a student of R YB Soloveitchik. My own rebbe when I learned at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan (rebbe was vehement about giving R’ Yitzchaq Elchanan Spektor his due memorial, and insisted on that name), Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt”l, did sign onto the ban against joining the SCA. As did Rav Mensel Zaks zt”l, former Rosh Yeshiva in Radun, the Chafetz Chaim’s son-in-law, and a rosh yeshiva in YU from 1946 until his retirement to Yerushalayim ih”q.

    Second R YB Soloveitchik’s teshuvah does not give blanket permission to join organizations with non-Orthodox rabbis. (Rav Moshe calls them “ראבביס”, so I shall as well.) He said this was only true on communal, survival, matters. This that affect the beris goral (the covenant of common fate), kelapei chutz (matters that pertain to our relationship outside, beyond the Jewish community). It did not include matters of the beris yi’ud (the covenant of common destiny), kelapei fnim (internal, religious, matters). So participation in Limmud could not be justified on the grounds that one is a student of RYBS (or of one of his students).

    However, I don’t know if Limmud fits under that discussion at all. Limmud isn’t the formation of organizational unity with non-Orthodox rabbis. It is an opportunity to teach authentic Torah to a thirsty audience in a context where they will otherwise have no choices but listening to more kefirah. In that sense, it’s wouldn’t fit the Agudah’s criterion — Limmud attendees would walk away from a debate between the movements. It’s more just teaching what’s right, not spending time arguing against what’s wrong. But I don’t see it as much different than heterim to for Orthodox teachers to teach Torah in Conservative Sunday schools, which has a far broader base of permissive rulings than R’ Soloveitchik’s on the SCA.

  8. joel rich says:

    I have no intention of breaking ranks with accepted practice in the non-YU world, neither past nor present. In time, however, perception in the Orthodox “street” help the einei ha-eidah formulate their responses. If there is any truth to my conjecture, eventually it can become policy.
    Two excellent sentences -but be careful, it might lead those who are not sufficiently discerning to think the einei ha-eidah need help in formulating responses and policies.

  9. cvmay says:


    Are any BANS ever re-evaluated?
    and shouldn’t they be as the time, culture, & years change? (enough of the excuse; who has those board shoulders & daios!! Even now with the petira of Chachom Yosef will all leniencies dissipate and chumros be the newest mantra due to a lack of courage, principle and ability.. HOW SAD!!)

    Medical & Scientific research evaluates, reconsiders and reinvestigates. The Kiruv of the 1990’s and early 2000’s is outdated and antiqued for many reasons discussed in prior posts, should we give up on Kiruv & throw in the towel? or open the door and observe the new scenery…

  10. D Kimche says:

    Perhaps I can shed some light on the current realities of UK Jewry (the high quality and relevancy of this article remaining unaffected).
    The situation in the UK is different to that in the States, and perhaps is comparable to the religious climate of the 50s in the USA. Whilst the non-Orthodox movements themselves are not as strong as the main Orthodox body (the United Synagogue), the typical member of a United Synagogue shul will not be religious (or even convinced of Orthodoxy over non-Orthodoxy) and, so-to-speak, be sitting on the fence. (This is a significant issue within United Synagogue, which, to their credit, they are trying to address.) I do know that part of the motivation behind an Orthodox boycott is to avoid conferring legitimacy on the non-Torah being traded there – a situation surely similar to original Kol Koreh in the 50’s.
    A second motivating factor for the Limmud boycott is the feeling Orthodox leaders have, that Limmud is not simply acting as the venue for a marketplace of different Jewish traders, but rather is pushing a liberal, reform-like agenda. Orthodox rabbonim point to the fact that they fly in the most liberal, the most reform, the most left-wing anti-Israel speakers as keynotes. That, they say, is a statement of the true agenda of Limmud. I further understand that Dayan Ehrenteu (the main force behind the Orthodox boycott) did sit down with the organisers of Limmud in its fledgling years to see whether Orthodox participation was feasible, and left with the feeling that they were not willing to allow an Orthodox representation of anything he would consider acceptable.
    None of this is to say that a review of the situation should not take place regularly. It should, on a yearly basis. We, in the UK, have faith in the leadership of Dayan Ehrenteu, who has devoted his life to serving every faction of the klal (just take a look at his track record fighting for agunos), and gives his psakim with the best (sometimes long-term) interests of the klal.
    (Yes, I am the son of Rabbi Kimche. No, I am not speaking here on his behalf.)

  11. Bob Miller says:

    When the ores that are still left (lower concentration, different location…) don’t respond well to older mining techniques, new ones are developed. Same way with oil. This should be a lesson.

  12. Baruch says:

    Mrs. Katz:

    1) The fact that kiruv has been successful does not mean that we can’t make it more successful by changing our policies, or that we shouldn’t change our policies to keep the success going in light of the drastically different set of circumstances were are living in.

    2) Your accusation that Rav Adlerstein is advocating being “smarter than the Torah” (if I understand it correctly) is assuming that the issue of engaging in dialogue was issued as a blanket, objective pesak halacha applicable in every time and place. Rav Adlerstein is suggesting that maybe it was from the outset intended as a necessary measure in light of the fragile state of Orthodoxy in the mid-20th century, and is not necessarily binding or desirable in today’s circumstances. Feel free to disagree, but to call what he writes ‘ridiculous’ and ‘trying to be smarter than the Torah’ is unfair.

  13. Baruch says:

    Sorry, I meant “issur of engaging in dialogue” not “issue.”

  14. Baruch says:

    I might add that the Chief Rabbis of Israel on several occasions have met with the Pope and other Christian leaders to discuss Jewish-Christian relations. No one suspects them of lending validity to the belief in the trinity. If I am understanding Rabbi Adlerstein correctly, he is saying that we’ve reached the point of strength where when an Orthodox rabbinic figure meets with non-Orthodox clergymen, it is just as obvious that they are not giving a seal of approval.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    One can argue that Limmud is a karaoke style love fest in which anyone representing Torah Judaism is engaged in apologetics, while maintaining that RYBS’s distinction between lay and rabbinical umbrella bodies served the OU and RCA quite well. I would argue that speaking at a venue like Harvard LS or the 92nd Streey Y as a representative of the OU, NCYI or Agudah , together with reps of HUC and JTC was a one time event, where everyone spoke their POV without any whiff of apologetics, or expectations of results either communally or individually. Such events strike me as a unique means of setting forth the Torah perspective in such a venue.

  16. Nachum says:

    R’ Adlerstein, an important correction is needed: By saying that it’s all right to cooperate on communal affairs and that this is somehow opposed to the “YU” approach, you are giving the impression that Rav Soloveitchik was all right with religious dialogue. This is completely untrue. Rav Soloveitchik was strongly *opposed* to religious dialogue (including, of course, with non-Jews), and allowed participation in the SCA and Board of Rabbis *only* on communal matters. (Indeed, the Orthodox members successfully prevented the SCA from ever engaging in religious debate, which was a major complaint of the other movements and one reason it broke up.)

    (There *were* regular YU/JTS debates in individual shuls that were trying to decide whether or not to keep their mechitza, but that’s a very different issue.)

    In short, the ban of the roshei yeshiva was on *any* sort of cooperation: After all, the last time I checked, the Agudah was not a member of the Presidents’ Conference, the JCPA, and so on, even though they are not involved in religious matters at all. Of course, the Agudah *did* participate in the Claims Conference, for example, along with the other examples you gave (not to mention the Knesset), so apparently not even the ban was so ironclad.

    [YA – Nachum is 100% correct about the Rav. I did not intend to imply anything to the contrary. I am not so sure about his take on Agudah. There are lots of other reasons why Agudah would not find it within its mandate to work with JCPA, the Presidents’ Conference and others. Besides, Agudah is a MIXED organization of both rabbis and laypeople, which restricts its activity within the guidelines of the ban. My recollection is that the ban did not preclude lay cooperation on secular matters. Where the Rav and Agudah disagreed was, IIRC on the Board of Rabbis and the Synagogue Council. The other roshei yeshiva were opposed to rabbis joining with other rabbis, period. Even if religious matters did not come up.

    In one regard, Nachum’s comment is overly “frum.” The Rav’s opposition to religious dialogue was more nuanced than the absolute ban Nachum implies (and is implied in such essays as his “Confrontation.” He left room under certain circumstances for the proper person to engage in such dialogue, when it was necessitated for some reason or other. For decades that person was Rabbi Walter Wurzberger z”l. Lehavdil bein chaim l’chaim, the clear yoresh of that mantle today is Dr. David Berger. There is a rich literature by now of competing views on what the Rav did or did not hold about interfaith dialogue. I am reporting here simply what was, and is, lemaaseh.]

  17. E. Fink says:

    Good luck. I’m with you.

  18. mycroft says:

    “Many of us respect the position enunciated decades ago by American gedolei roshei yeshivah that we should not participate in forums with non-Orthodox Jewish clergy.”I hope all of us respect the position even those of us who don’t follow those roshei yeshiva that signed the “ban”-of course I would hope that those who follow the “ban” should respect those who follow other positions.” Bnei Torah from YU have every reason not to be bound by that thinking, since Rav Soloveitchik refused to sign” not only refused to sign- the Rav was involved in setting strategy to keep the OU in the SCA. The RCA during the relevant time period was controlled by students of the Rav the OU had many who were talmidim and followers of those who signed the ban. “(as well as a few others)”, most interesting for an approach that I wish were followed today was that of R E Silver who although was opposed to the SCA as a matter of policy refused to sign the ban-because in his opinion the students of Rav Kotler etc were never involved in the SCA thus no need for a psak/ban -the ban was intended at students of Rav Soloveitchik and thus he did not think it was proper to attack those who were following another gadols opinion.
    Re the Rav on SCA it is important to realize that three factors were crucial to the Ravs heter;each member organization had the right to veto any action that the SCA considered undertaking, the SCA was not merely an organization of Rabbinic organizations-the lay organizations eg OU,had equal right to veto, and the organization was one that dealt with klappei chutz matters only. The Ravs students would belong to the SCA but not to organizations such as local Board of Rabbis etc

  19. Aryeh Lev says:

    I agree with Micha that teaching a session at Limmud is probably more similar to teaching Torah at a Conservative religious school (permitted by Rav Moshe ztz’l) then to engaging in a public debate with non-Orthodox clergy (prohibited by many of the past generation’s gedolim). However I believe that the ban itself needs to be reexamined and repealed.

    When the ban was enacted, the people “on the fence” were nominally Orthodox people considering affiliating Conservative/Reform. As RYA says, the ban was necessary to avoid giving the heterodox movements the legitimacy they needed to sway the nominally Orthodox into leaving.

    Today, the people “on the fence” at Limmud or a similar event are committed Conservative, “post-denominational,” or Reform Jews who identify strongly as Jews, care about Israel, and have some commitment to Jewish observance, and have far more Jewish knowledge then most non-Orthodox Jews. They often have theological issues with Orthodoxy, but are frustrated by the non-Orthodox movements’ demographic weakness and the widespread apathy and Jewish illiteracy of the non-Orthodox laity. They may be open to Orthodoxy’s message, but need to be engaged with and convinced.

    We need to be sending our best and brightest scholars and teachers to reach these people. We need to appeal to their existing knowledge and commitment, while engaging with their skepticism, and demonstrating that we share some (but not all) of their concerns. We need courageous rabbanim on the level of the authors of the original ban to proclaim that the metzius that precipitated that ban no longer exists, and a new approach is needed.

  20. lacosta says:

    1. r katz, when you say about your sainted father ” he reached out successfully to thousands of Jews ” , please define for the kahal the setting in which that occured; and if you have any data on the kiruv yield he achieved [ think there’s little data on kiruv ‘success’ no matter how leniently you define it]

    2. i wonder if given the massive problems in the O world and significantly the haredi world— amongst them the widespread spiritual angst/ennui amongst not only the young , but even faithlessness in well-educated adult ….

    [ see for example the scathing please of r’ wallerstein [available on vosizneias] …

    one wonders if the triage lifeboat should be primarily directed at the moderately ill 10% , rather than the 90% on the endangered species list

  21. Hoffa Fingerbergstein says:

    Aryeh Lev – with all due respect, looking at the agenda of speakers and topics at Limmud, it is clear that those attending will likely not be open to the standard Orthodox viewpoint given that it would be at odds with the liberal agenda afoot there. The overwhelming viewpoints presented are “alternative” and left-wing in terms of Judaism and politics. I don’t see how attendees can somehow be considered as being “open to Orthodoxy’s message” without the context of where and to whom (mainstream) Orthodoxy would be presenting. I can’t see how it would do any good.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Aryeh Lev wrote in part:

    “Today, the people “on the fence” at Limmud or a similar event are committed Conservative, “post-denominational,” or Reform Jews who identify strongly as Jews, care about Israel, and have some commitment to Jewish observance, and have far more Jewish knowledge then most non-Orthodox Jews. They often have theological issues with Orthodoxy, but are frustrated by the non-Orthodox movements’ demographic weakness and the widespread apathy and Jewish illiteracy of the non-Orthodox laity. They may be open to Orthodoxy’s message, but need to be engaged with and convinced”

    This is the crux of the issue. Engagement , to use a fancy word that strikes me as being nothing more than an advertising slogan, and convincing, are IMO the wrong pedagogical tools. Why not just show such people the beauty of Shabbos, the depth, profundity and contemporary relevance of Torah study in its own right? None of the above can be accomplished in a venue where guitar playing and liberal Democratic politics are the would be competition.

  23. mb says:

    From Rabbi Dr.Michael Harris

    As many have pointed out in recent weeks, public controversy is often damaging and unhelpful. However, all the rabbinic voices in the ongoing public controversy over Limmud have opposed Limmud and Orthodox participation in it. It is surely reasonable for an Orthodox rabbi who thinks differently to speak out honestly and openly.

    I first attended Limmud in 1994 and have since been to almost every national Conference as well as many day Conferences. It is a wonderful event which I always find uplifting, blessed by the incredible energy, enthusiasm and ability of a host of volunteers, many of them young and already showing great commitment to the Jewish community.

    Sessions at Limmud reflect the variety of perspectives that exist in the contemporary Jewish world. Limmud has for nearly two decades now had Orthodox opponents as well as supporters, and I accept that one can make a case against Orthodox participation in Limmud, although there is in my view a far stronger argument to be made in favour of Orthodox and Orthodox rabbinic participation. Machloket leshem shamayim should be possible here.

    But I struggle to understand why the gilui da’as of the seven rabbis – two of whom I know personally and admire – which initiated the latest sad series of events was written in such a way as to undermine the possibility of such machloket. I struggle to understand how rabbonim, however senior and respected, can claim to know the mind of HaShem concerning Limmud – a claim that could legitimately be made only by a prophet. I struggle to understand why they told dedicated young volunteers, many of them from our own Orthodox communities, who put so much dedication and commitment into Limmud out of the best possible motives of love for the Jewish people, that G-d does not approve of their path. I struggle to understand the purpose of calling non-Orthodox Judaism “pseudo-Judaism”, language which only serves to drive many people further away from our tradition. I struggle to understand a simplistic Manichean view of the world in which haredi Orthodoxy is the sole, direct and simple continuation of Torah miSinai and every other contemporary form of Judaism is deluded. The signatories of the gilui da’as included rabbis who deliberately live lives totally secluded from the mainstream British Jewish community. One doubts whether they understand that community, let alone Limmud.

    The Jewish Tribune on Friday carried a statement from the Adas Bet Din denouncing Orthodox rabbinic participation in Limmud and, en passant, criticising Shuls which (like my own) encourage women to dance with a Sefer Torah on Simchat Torah, as well as Shuls which allow the taking of the Sefer Torah into the ezrat nashim for women to kiss. The irony is unbearable. Not satisfied with jumping on the anti-Limmud bandwagon, the Adas Bet Din tells us how to conduct our Shuls on issues affecting women, the very area where their failure over the Halpern affair has been so egregious.

    The gilui da’as sparked an angry response from a group of lay leaders. It was, probably rightly, pointed out that some of them were not qualified to enter into theological debate. However, the lay leaders doubtless would have preferred to leave the response to the mainstream Orthodox rabbinate – but rightly surmised that, sadly, no critical response of any sort would be forthcoming.

    A few days ago, Rabbi Kimche circulated his article. An excellent response has been made by Samuel Lebens at https://www.facebook.com/notes/sam-lebens/open-letter-to-rabbi-kimche/10151663623421901. Two additional points can be made. First, Rabbi Kimche is correct that a number of sessions at Limmud express viewpoints opposed to Orthodox ones. They may even have increased in number and in how radical they are. But if they have, that is because Orthodox rabbis and teachers have failed to attend Limmud in sufficient numbers and promote an Orthodox voice. Orthodox rabbis need to be at Limmud in larger numbers, not fewer. Secondly, one is tempted to respond to Rabbi Kimche: if you have problems with Limmud, why not set up an alternative Orthodox event? That of course happened a number of years ago – the Encounter Conference, an interesting omission from Rabbi Kimche’s article. Encounter distinguished itself by attempting to deligitimise Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. It then disinvited Chief Rabbi Sacks to Manchester Encounter, hurriedly U-turning when some key funders threatened to pull out. Finally, the coalition of groups which put Encounter together fell out among themselves, and Encounter ceased to exist. What began because of delegitimisation of Limmud ended, compelled by its own bizarre inner logic, in effectively delegitimising itself.

    It is hard to escape the feeling that we in the Orthodox rabbinate have let our community down in recent weeks, and frankly it is hard not to feel shame and distress at what has occurred. I look forward to learning and teaching at this year’s Limmud; it is one of British Jewry’s greatest ever achievements and it is a privilege to be a part of it.

  24. Yisrael Medad says:

    You mean there is an actual “ban”? An “issur” that is of a Halachic weight rather than a firm policy directive? No wonder Orthodoxy is in trouble in the competition for Jewish souls.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that R Adlerstein is on the mark in showing that real opportunities for kiruv exist in heretofore very unlikely venues, regardless of how one views the “psak” by the Moetzes or RYBS’s view on participation in the now long defunct SCA. That being the case, I would suggest that very few whose life in the Klei Kodesh centers around Kiruv debate the validity of either side of the SYA and spend far more of their time in kiruv and chizuk related activities. To use a phrase used in the world of “shidduchim”, discussions re the views of the SCA and its demise ( which RJ and CJ walked out of because the RCA and OU would not engage in theological dialogue and not because of the possible, but rarely used possible veto of such discussions by the RCA and MO) are just “not shayach” to the everyday business of anyone who views kiruv and chizuk as the battle cry of this generation.

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    RYA also reminded me of two remarks that I have heard in the name of two great contemporary Gdolim. R Mattisuyahu Solomon once commented that we have to fight today’s battles with today’s weapons, instead of preparing for fighting the last war. RHS once commented that which was Assur years ago, may be Mutar today and vice versa. Such statements IMO illustrate why the appearance at Harvard LS deserves to be applauded as an oppportunity to present the Torah POV on a matter of pressing public concern, whereas the venue of Limmud is far more of a karoake like free for all.

  27. Reb Yid says:

    Perhaps even more important than discouraging Orthodox rabbis from teaching at Limmud would be to discourage Orthodox parishioners from attending. Because, whatever the risk is of legitimizing C and R through a rav’s participation, the risk of a Torah Jew learning from heretical speakers is bound to be even greater.

  28. Neil Harris says:

    Nicely stated, Rabbi Alderstein. I actuallly am hoping to be involved with the next Limmud Chicago, specially because I don’t have semicha nor am I tied to any formal organization (except fr being a member of the Shulchan Aruch club).

  29. mb says:

    Steve Brizel said
    “Why not just show such people the beauty of Shabbos, the depth, profundity and contemporary relevance of Torah study in its own right? None of the above can be accomplished in a venue where guitar playing and liberal Democratic politics are the would be competition.”

    Perhaps Steve is unaware, as seems most dissenters, that Shabbat and Kashrut are observed at Limmud (Orthodox prayer services are heavily attended,) and Torah study is a focal point. And personally, I like guitar playing.

  30. Neil Harris says:

    Just to add to what “MB” said, here’s a quote from Limmud’s Mission-Values and Principles:

    Religious Observance
    •Shabbat and kashrut are observed in all public areas. We recognise that in private areas people will behave as they wish
    •Should participants wish to hold a prayer group, they may do so providing they supply all resources and are responsible for the session or prayer group in its entirety

    Also, for what it’s worth, Limmud’s presentation/teaching sessions are all individual, as in one presenter (or several as needed). Having any type of multi-denominational panel, where one would be presenting with someone as part of a panel isn’t what Limumud is about.

  31. D Kimche says:

    Rabbi Michael Harris is not representative of the general opinion of the United Synagogue rabbinate. He was one of the only (if not the only?) United Synagogue rabbi to have attended Limmud during Dayan Ehrentreu’s tenure as Av Beis Din, against the Dayan’s wishes that his rabbinate not attend. He most certainly is entitled to his opinion, but his is not the only voice – or, I would argue, not even the most popular voice – within the United Synagogue rabbinate.

  32. mb says:

    To D Kimche,
    I have no idea of the relevance of your comment.
    Just a reminder what R.Y.Schochet of Mill Hill US(hardly a left winger, and head of the U.S. Rabbinical Assembly) said after attending and presenting in 2010 after resisting for many years.
    “I have no idea why I didn’t go earlier!”

  33. Steve Brizel says:

    MB-public “observance of Shabbos should never be compared or equated with what an individual does behind closed doors. Look at the South African program which involved IIRC, both private and public Shemiras Shabbos.

  34. D Kimche says:

    My intent was to contextualise the article you quoted. I wished to clarify for the readership of this blog – who may not be familiar with the rabbis in London – that Rabbi Harris’s opinion regarding Limmud is not reflective of the mainstream US rabbinate. It is true that he and Rabbi Shochet do attend Limmud; it is equally true that the vast majority of them don’t. The majority opinion within the UK Orthodox rabbinate is still to keep away from Limmud, against mounting pressure from their congregants to go. This has created an awkward situation whereby those rabbis holding a negative stance are unable to say or write anything publicly, for fear of alienating their congregants. But many do disagree with his stance and take issue with the article he published.

  35. Hoffa Fingerbergstein says:

    Forget shabbos and davening – just take a look at the daily agenda and nebulous and heretical topics listed. Why should a head nod to public observance of mitzvos obscure what goes on there every year?

  36. SK says:

    MB –

    D Kimche’s comments were very relevant. 2 out of 200 means that 99% are not breaking ranks with Dayan Eherentreu and silently voting with their feet on the issue.

    Limmud certainly is OK with classes on how megillat esther was a made up court story – and whether the seder night story which we “so love to recount” is fact or fiction.

    The intent is to fudge the border between progressive and orthodox. In the USA progressive are 90% orthodox are 10% . in the UK it is the reverse, only because of traditionalist United Synagogue [with the centrist 50% under the chief Rabbis umbrella]. If the Chief Rabbi goes to Limmud – and if orthodoxy come to Limmud, then they can successufully extend.

  37. mb says:

    It’s very interesting that all of the negative comments are from people that have never attended tLimmud!
    SK, as for the 2 out of 200 comment,it is simply wrong, and your comments about Purim and Pesach are meaningless. Is there an educated Orthodox Jew out there that is not aware that not everybody considers them historically correct? Isn’t our job in the O community to at least try to show otherwise?
    And,D Kimche, you should have known better.Just for fun, I began counting how many orthodox Rabbis, presented at last years conference in 2012. At least 13 including United Synagogue Rabbis. And it has been this way for years.
    And for those that are interested, the first Limmud was hosted by an Orthodox school.

  38. mb says:

    Correction. There were over 20 Orthodox Rabbis last year and a total of more than 50 men and women who teach in Orthodox institutions. By far the largest religious group.

  39. Eric Leibman says:

    We have much more serious problems to deal with here at home in our own Orthodox community. There is no need for us to comment on limud because we cannot impact or change it from over here and it does not affect us. So why waste our time and energy when both are so sorely needed in other areas here at home? I will finish by saying, however, that I find the fact that Rabbi Adlerstein counts himself as being close with Rabbi Cardozo a little unsettling. But that is a topic for another day.

  40. mb says:

    “I will finish by saying, however, that I find the fact that Rabbi Adlerstein counts himself as being close with Rabbi Cardozo a little unsettling. But that is a topic for another day.
    Eric Leibman”

    If you think that’s ” a little unsettling” you should see some of his other friends!

  41. Loberstein says:

    Fascinating exchange of views and mostly respectful of diversity. The ban has to be understood in light of Jewish History. One has to understand the situation in Germany, in Eastern Europe to understand why the rabbis issued their ban. Such a banhad never been issued prior to their arrival by orthodox rabbis. i assume that orthodoxy was weak and very much the poor cousin in the first half of th 20th century. Rav Aharon Kotler instilled a pride and self confidence that may have been lacking previously. When we mix sociology with religion, we get situations where different communities are forced to adapt practices hat were developed for entirely different situations. Time as shown that,whatever its motivations, Rav Aharon suceeded and Yeshivish orthodoxy has become dominant and is growing exponentially. This discussion would be impossibe in chazssidus excdept for Lubavitch. They won’t change anything anyteime anywhere and they are also taking over orthodoxy. I see it in my own community where the orfthodoxy of 20 years ago is no longer acceptable by many. My conclusion is that there is no one authority and each person should follow the dictum “aseh lecho rav.”

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