Open Orthodoxy and the Rebirth of the Conservative Movement
by Avrohom Gordimer
Cross-Currents readership is all too familiar with discussion about Open Orthodoxy; every nook and cranny of Open Orthodoxy could be explored with a critical eye through Cross-Currents’ numerous articles on the subject, spanning a lengthy period of time.
Once the major issues of Open Orthodoxy had been fully brought to the table, it was decided that our focus and energy should be directed elsewhere, as the Orthodox public assumedly had been presented with enough information about Open Orthodoxy to be well-informed, if not saturated. More discussion about Open Orthodoxy seemed moot, and it was hoped and supposed that Open Orthodox leadership would constructively utilize the criticisms to recalibrate the movement’s trajectory onto a more normative path.
However, we were dead wrong, for as we turned our attention away, the nature and magnitude of the challenges presented by Open Orthodoxy increased beyond imagination. Over the past several months, the intellectual leadership of Open Orthodoxy openly embraced highly problematic positions regarding the origins of Torah She-b’al Peh; Open Orthodox rabbis around the United States engaged in new, more radical types of interfaith and interdenominational endeavors that could make one’s hair stand on end; and much more.
It was decided, as per the advice of senior rabbinic authorities, to issue a comprehensive article on the above recent and current issues, feeling that the larger Orthodox public must be aware of these startling developments, as Orthodoxy is now truly at a crossroads. This article would be intended for hard-copy journal publication, and would include a composite of all of the issues to consider, new and old. In light of the fact that Open Orthodoxy is successfully and rapidly placing its graduating rabbis in Orthodox shuls and schools across the country, bringing a different type of Orthodoxy to communities heretofore unfamiliar with it, and in light of the currently unfolding nature of several of the critical issues at hand, it was decided to release the article early as an online publication.
With K’lal Yisroel presently facing so many challenges – Hashem yishmor – we felt compelled to hold off and not post anything about Open Orthodoxy for the time being. In the midst of fervent tefillah and grave concern for our brethren in Eretz Yisroel and our soldiers in Gaza, we deemed it inappropriate to post about most other issues, and publication of this article was hence delayed for almost a month. However, in light of the acute spiritual challenges faced by Orthodoxy which are presented in the article – challenges that continue and increase irrespective of whatever else is happening in the world – it was realized that delaying publication further would not serve us well and would engender even more serious challenges, as actions and attitudes that threaten to profoundly impact the fabric and character of Orthodoxy are at the door, ready to enter, and cannot be left unaddressed.
Please read this article and consider the very potential far-reaching ramifications of the recent actions and current path of Open Orthodoxy.
Rabbi Gordimer is a kashrus professional, a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.