UnOrthodox Protest of the New RCA Resolution Against the Ordination of Women

You may also like...

19 Responses

  1. David Ohsie says:

    “The reason that Open Orthodoxy typically turns to the secular media as the venue for attack on positions with which it does not agree is obvious: the readership of these publications is less Jewishly-educated and is hence more easily influenced, and sympathy for critique of tradition is clearly more prevalent among non-Orthodox audiences. To put it very bluntly, Open Orthodoxy preys on people’s ignorance and emotions, and that is why it publishes its objections on religious issues in secular fora.”

    What publications are they avoiding? Would the Yated or Hamodia publish a response by the OO?

    In addition, why shouldn’t they respond in fora that their own membership would more typically read?

    Finally, you isn’t it the case that the secular Jewish media publishes what their readership is interested in and that promulgation of a ban is of interest? Maybe what this says is to avoid bans and simple have leaders act according to their principles. If a school doesn’t feel it is appropriate to hire a Maharat, then don’t hire her. You don’t need proclamations for that.

  2. ARW says:

    I found Yankelowitz’s s statement about “Teachings from our tradition that are evil” deeply disturbing. It shows a deep contempt for our Holy Torah and an arrogant sense of moral superiority not just to Chazal (as he has done in the past) but to the Torah itself. It this had been stated by a non-jew it would have been considered ant-semetic. I have no doubt that this and other statements of his will be used as fuel against Orthodoxy.

  3. Y. Ben-David says:

    Although I am not a supporter of OO, it does pain me to see religious Jews find another cause in which to bash each other (that includes threats to press libel suits).
    Years ago I read in an Orthodox magazine numerous attacks on the R and C movements, which I thought was odd because I don’t believe the people who regularly read that magazine were really torn between the O and the non-O movements, so I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand what the point of those condemnations was.
    I know that back in the 19th century when Jews were abandoning Jewish observance en masse, there was a view that somehow groups like the secular ZIonists or the Maskilim were luring innocent religious Jews into their clutches. I believe that is a very simplistic view of things. These groups grew not because of “slick propaganda” but rather because they were fulfilling some need and answers that the traditional religious community and leadership was unable to provide.
    It is the same today. OO will survive if there is a demand for it out there in the Jewish community. With the disintegration of the C movement, it seems that there is. Thus, simply pouring out condemnations against them and again returning to the old, discredited approach saying that they are somehow luring innocent O Jews and simply responding “they are not O” and leaving it at that will not work. Those who disagree with them must come up with fresh, intelligent answers and responses to the challenges the OO people are posing.

  4. Larry says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong. The RCA membership voted on and passed a resolution banning the hiring of women rabbis. At this point, the resolution has no legal or halachic significance and there is no penalty for members violating the ban.

    While I agree with the resolution, I do not understand how it has practical impact. The resolution is words with no teeth. Rabbis do not hire Rabbis, congregations hire Rabbis. The RCA has no power over congregations. There are no RCA members who ordain women. It is ironic that the RCA passed a resolution barring the ordination of women after the Rabbi who ordinates women resigned from the RCA. The ban on women using a title implying rabbinic ordination puts the RCA in the peculiar spot of inspecting stationary and business cards.

    I see much in common in tone and forum between the OO response to the RCA and the LWMO response to Rabbi Willig’s recent statements on women learning Talmud. I am disappointed that more support was not shown to Rabbi Willig by his collegues and students. Rabbi Willig made a practical and useful statement about the communal impact of recent educational practices and was left out to dry. Why should we be surprised at how the RCA is treated, when the rabbinate does not stand strongly with their esteemed peer?

    • Mycroft says:

      My sociological analysis for the reason that Rabbi Willig apparently was not supported by more in his comments against women learning is that it is in effect an open attack against one of the major positions of the Rav. In general disagreements with the Ravs positions which have led many knowledgeable commentators to refer to the revisionism in RIETS or change to Centrism from MO tend to be less frontal or actually claiming the Rav didn’t believe what he said publicly or that the Rav told X something different than what he told others publicly.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        I would not say that this was one of the major positions of the Rav, especially after speaking with those in touch with people who were extremely close to him. It was a pragmatic approach, not a foundational one. Please also see here: http://jewishlinknj.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9325:women-and-talmud-study-toning-down-the-rhetoric-clarifying-the-obscure&catid=156:features&Itemid=585

      • Mycroft says:

        Thanks for your response. I tend to read your analysis and thus had the pleasure of rereading your link. Women should be taught Talmud may not have been “one of the major positions of the Rav” it depends on whether one looks only what is unique of the Rav-thus the Rav trying to get people to be Shomrei Mitzvot, fighting against mixed seating, being a marbetz Torah are not unique positions. However the Rav was unique in his positions regarding belonging to groups such as the Synagogue Council of America, his belief that Women’s education should be the same as men.
        He taught his own girls Talmud, he answered every question that he was asked that one should teach girls the same. BTW I can also say that I have spoken to people who were extremely close to him. Besides those who you quote in your article I can say that I’ve spoken to the 2 members of the Maimonides school committee who were selected by the Rav rather than his wife or daughter.

      • Larry says:

        It would be beyond laughable to suggest that Rabbi Willig would openly attack The Rav. I am not a student of Rabbi Willig or the Rav or YU. But I know and respect a great talmud chacham when I see one. Rabbi Willig needs to be defended for who he is and not for what he says. We are not in a position to decide is he is right. We are in a position to admire and respect his Torah. And I say this as someone who has no association with him or with YU. I am embarrassed for YU that his honor was not properly defended.

        I do not what the Rav said about women learning talmud. I am 100% certain he did not say it is a requirement that every Jewish girl learn talmud. However, pretty much every MO girls school, with a couple exceptions, requires the girls to learn Talmud. Halevai, those schools stressed tzniut and kavod chachamim even a fraction to the extent they teachTalmud.

  5. Mike S. says:

    And what was the RCA expecting? That the rabbis who are ordaining women would say “Oh, I didn’t know so many other rabbis don’t approve. I’d better stop”? Do you really think they didn’t know that already? That they would submit their response to “Tradition”?

    Who was the intended audience, (and what was it supposed to accomplish, given that the RCA had already issued similar ones in the past)? The ordainers? I assume not [see above]. Members of the RCA who might start ordaining women? How many of those could there be? Congregations looking for female leadership? If so, what did the RCA suggest? As near as I can tell, “either do without or at least make sure you get it from someone whose school avoids the forbidden word ‘ordination'”,. Or is it aimed at encouraging RCA members to shun those to their left? Or at persuading the Agguda that the RCA isn’t too far to the left?

    Even for those opposed to ordaining women, it was entirely predictable that the resolution would result in negative publicity for the RCA, and it is hard to see any positive result that could come of it?

    • Rafael Felafelburger says:

      If negative publicity = attacks from the Left, that’s fine with me. This is actually smart because:

      1) it will show who in OO is uncomfortable with women’s ordination and this will allow them to move out, given that a clear “mechitzah” is in place.
      2) by galvanizing OO leadership on the side of women’s ordination, this will clearly show to fellow MO that OO’s real agenda is, which in my view has not been totally open and clear until now – now you have “attack dogs’ from OO writing columns, reflecting the views of its leadership that they are united in favour of this breach of Halochoh and Mesorah;
      3) it shows that sometimes MO leadership has to take uncomforable stands, even if unpopular. Its easy to hide one’s head in the sand and say “don’t ignite the Left”, “leave things be”, “don’t start conflict”. In fact, its OO, with its unprecedented views on female ordination and other gender related issues that is tearing away the fabric of long-standing practices of what is called Orthodoxy.

      Good move RCA!!

      • Mike S. says:

        Well, the bad publicity is not only coming from the OO, but also from members of the RCA who do not favor ordaining women, but think the resolution is poor tactics. And, at least judging by people who came over to me over Shabbos, the resolution is unpopular even among ba’alei battim who have no interest in women’s ordination. I think it is telling that press reports indicate that among RCA members who are pulpit rabbis (i.e. the ones with ba’alei battim), the resolution received far less than a majority.

        If I may address your specific points:

        1) it will show who in OO is uncomfortable with women’s ordination and this will allow them to move out, given that a clear “mechitzah” is in place.
        Since one of OO’s main drawing point is greater openness toward increased roles for women, I doubt that will be many, if anyone. And why would this resolution be any more effective than the earlier ones (2010 and 2013)?

        2) by galvanizing OO leadership on the side of women’s ordination, this will clearly show to fellow MO that OO’s real agenda is, which in my view has not been totally open and clear until now – now you have “attack dogs’ from OO writing columns, reflecting the views of its leadership that they are united in favour of this breach of Halochoh and Mesorah;
        I suppose it might help with some. On the other hand it might drive others who were figuring that rabbis would quietly and gradually come around to increased leadership for women toward the OO. [Like they did on English sermons despite the opposition of such luminaries as RIDBAZ, who were complained bitterly about that breach in the mesorah] The fact that the pulpit rabbis were generally opposed might suggest that they think the latter will overwhelm the former.

        It also ignores that fact that rabbis outside of the OO have begun ordaining women, especially in Israel. Do you want to push them out too?

        3) it shows that sometimes MO leadership has to take uncomforable stands, even if unpopular. Its easy to hide one’s head in the sand and say “don’t ignite the Left”, “leave things be”, “don’t start conflict”. In fact, its OO, with its unprecedented views on female ordination and other gender related issues that is tearing away the fabric of long-standing practices of what is called Orthodoxy.

        It shows whom? And since when is decrying those to their left hard for Orthodox rabbis? OO has probably a few thousand adherents at most. Hard is pointing out when those to the right have gone overboard. How about condemning protection of child molesters by major Chassidic sects numbering 10-100 times the OO? With its emphasis on “ordination” and its neutrality on other roles, like yoatzot halacha, that depend on learned women to take role formerly performed by rabbis, which are called non-rabbinic apparently because they avoid the term “ordination’, many people I have spoken to think this is more about who can be in the”club” rather than upholding nay mesorah.

  6. Yehudi says:

    B’H, that the RCA put through the resolution against the ordination of women and made it known to the general Jewish public that this OO stupidity cannot be part of the Orthodox world. It is contrary to everything that is Torah! Who cares if these renegades go to the Jewish secular media – they’re all one and agree with each other and have a place where they can bash the Torah world. That is their sin and their problem.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Rabbi Gordimer deserves a huge Yasher Koach for exposing the non-halachic tactics and hashkafa of OO’s leaders and devotees.

  8. Dov says:

    A cursory glance at the people who signed the petition really was telling to me. I noticed that most of the signers fell into one of 4 categories:
    1. Reform or Conservative
    2. YCT/Maharat Students or spouses
    3. Congregants or students in Riverdale
    4.People who signed because “Rabbis have been controlling women for to long”, “No longer should women be oppressed”, etc.

    I find this telling since very few people are debating the meat of bones of why the RCA is wrong . I am surprised at the way Dr. Stadlan worded his petition . Seemingly knowing that those who would side and sign such a piece have little interest in debating and understanding why OO has not crossed out of Orthodoxy , and rather are people standing up blindly for their community and righting the “injustice and abuse” that they feel mainstream Orthodoxy imposes on women.

    • Mycroft says:

      Even assuming that some signers of the petition are “people standing up blindly for their community” how is that different conceptually than some are taking the opposite position only because their Rebbe takes that position.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-those who are sogning the petition are hardly doing so because they are relying on any halachic position espoused by a Talmid Chacham who knows the ins and outs of Halacha. TSBP, Mesorah and Minhagei Yisrael

      • Mycroft says:

        We agree. I agree with your statement on RHS. You agree that they are signing the statement because of his positions.

      • Dov says:

        (not sure if i agree with the premise but…The difference is:

        blind followers of halachic authorities – realize there is a toras hashem that they have not attained and trust gedolim to understand it . Many of these folk value torah and study it for hours a day , yet when it comes to these issues trust people greater than them

        “people standing up blindly for their community” – often HS students or riverdale congregants if you ask came why they sign they Villainize the right wing Rabbis. They lack nuance or understanding for their voice to be part of the greater discussion.

        obviously these are generalities… but when the patition is actually dissected it is very telling.

  9. DF says:

    At this point you are beating a dead horse. They were basically just declared null and void by the right and left of orthodoxy – who cares that they protested? Did you expect them to agree? And do you think the Jewish Week is just going to stop fawning over them and publishing their announcements?

    Continuing to attack at this point sends the message that you think the RCA/Agudah pronouncements had no effect; that you still find it necessary to “reckon” with them. You are going to have to learn to ignore them, and find something else to write about.

Pin It on Pinterest