The Rabbi Riskin Article: A Reply to Rabbi Billet

You may also like...

44 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    The real issue is whether R and C are movements that have a positive sense of “Jewish continuity” beyond that of Tkun Olam and radical liberal politics and view Torah and mitzvos as binding in any way,shape or form. Even USY via its events and Ramah camps, which was a great source of BTs, now has relaxed rules re intermarriage and the ability to run and serve as officers. Ivory towers can exist with respect to any issue in halacha , yet we should not forget that they exist  in our most prominent communities regardless of hashkafic labels. If one wants to that R and C have failed to retain the next generation, one can find empty R and C homes of worship on any Shabbos throughout North America. In Israel, one cannot deny that R and C has failed to find favor with traditional Israelis who view R and C as an American import. One can walk past a C house of worship in a prominent Jerusalem neighborhood that is always empty and see many Torah observant Jews on their way to and from shul. These are facts-not wishful thinking as to the hopes for R and C as movements. The  facts on the ground illustrate that successful strategies in kiruv begin with welcoming all Jews who wish to explore their heritage, while ignoring ideological water cooler battles over the contributions of R and C in 2016 as movements.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Many movements pose as Judaism.  Drawing Jews closer to such consumer frauds serves no valid purpose.  Why substitute a new lie for some old one?

      • dr. bill says:

        read Rabbi Sabato’s conversations with RAL ztl; it will provide a more nuanced perspective.

  2. Yaakov Menken says:

    I am most bothered by the egregious ad hominem attack on Rabbi Gordimer. It was totally irrelevant to the issue and beneath Rabbi Billet. It is ridiculous to assert that without 30 years running a kehillah in Israel one is unqualified to evaluate the global ‘contribution’ of American liberal movements, but that is the nature of his appeal to authority. He was unable to address R Avrohom on the substance, because it was unimpeachable. He simply tries to claim that Rabbi Riskin, an articulate, experienced and careful speaker, did not mean what every reader, especially every heterodox-affiliated reader, would understand him to have said.

    • Aryeh Wiener says:

      That’s inaccurate and obfuscating. Rabbi Billet didn’t imply that one needs to have 30 years’ experience as a community Rav to have a say. He implied that one should have some. And he pointed out quite clearly that Rabbi Gordimer has none.

      • Yaakov Menken says:

        Actually, he “implied” no such thing. He made no attempt to make his comment relevant, so you could say 50 years is required, or 20 minutes is required. After all, in the end he argues that Rabbis Riskin and Gordimer actually agree, but Rabbi Riskin didn’t say what the plain meaning of his words clearly implies that he said. Did Rabbi Billet mean to imply that pulpit experience is more relevant to understanding the liberal movements than, say, studying the stances and results of the liberal movements? He does not say. Did he intend to imply that experience as a pulpit rabbi is needed in order to understand a pulpit rabbi? Well, one hopes he didn’t mean that; people don’t need more excuses to nod off before Musaf.

        If he meant to say that a non-pulpit rabbi has no right to challenge a pulpit rabbi on any issue, because pulpit rabbis are inherently more perceptive, intelligent and educated, he doesn’t explain that, either.

      • Steve brizel says:

        R billet implies that rabbonim in the trenches have a broader perspective. Yet there are issues that require a rav to consult with specialists such as shalom bay is and family issues as well as with those who have a contemporary understanding of R and C as opposed to wishful thinking about the potential of R and C.

  3. dr. bill says:

    Thank God, the smokescreen is lifted.  moving on from OO/YCT, the real targets are now clear – the left wing of the MO/RCA movement.

  4. mycroft says:

     

    The Rav was opposed to denying Conservative or Reform Rabbis the right to use communal mikvaot for conversions.

    • Tal Benschar says:

      mycroft, you cannot make such a statement without any context.  Was the Rav speaking about America or Eretz Yisrael?  Did the fact that C or R contributed to mikvahs have anything to do with it?

      The implicit assertion that the Rav’s position in America would have transferred to the current situation in EY is unproven and unsupported.

      • dr. bill says:

        In israel the contribution to mikvaot is overwhelmingly non-orthodox; it comes largely from public funds.  the orthodox are the overwhelming beneficiaries attempting to act like baal-habatim as well.  in america most/almost all mikvaot are owned by orthodox institutions; albeit with non-orthodox support.

      • Tal Benschar says:

        Dr. Bill:

        W/o listing all the details, the situation in EY and America are vastly different.  The funds in EY derive from taxes and are then spent by the govt. based on coalition influence on policy.  Calling the contributions “overwhelmingly non-Orthodox” is misleading, since most of those who pay taxes are secular, not members of heterodox movements.  And, there has long been a consensus since the founding of the State that religious institutions are Orthodox.

        None of that means that R. Riskin is correct or not correct, but it does mean that what R. Soloveichik held about America is simply not transferrable to the vastly different situation there.

      • dr. bill says:

        ay yes.  i mislead all ignorant enough not to understand that the non-orthodox in Israel are overwhelmingly israeli chilonim.  so sorry.

      • mycroft says:

        “mycroft, you cannot make such a statement without any context.”
        The statement shows an attitude of the Rav different than RMF as to how one deals with non Orthodox clergy
        ” Was the Rav speaking about America or Eretz Yisrael?”

        The Rav in his lifetime had influence in the US-he was not an Israeli Rav-of course now his influence in the US has gone down immensely to the extent that very intelligent knowledgeable musmachim of  RIETS are not even aware of his positions.

        ” Did the fact that C or R contributed to mikvahs have anything to do with it?”

        I am aware of the statement-I am not aware of  R and C contributions in general to mikvaot-I’d be pleased to learn otherwise

        “The implicit assertion that the Rav’s position in America would have transferred to the current situation in EY is unproven and unsupported.”

        If so, then the implicit assumption that viewpoints of  pre war European gdolim should be transferred to current situation in Israel or America is unproven and unsupported.

  5. David F says:

    The theory that affiliation with R or C is better than nothing at all is hardly a proven fact. Many mekarvim will argue that the reverse is true. Jews who’ve never been exposed to the falsehoods peddled by the R and C movements are much more receptive to the Emes when they encounter it than their brethren who’ve been taught that “Tikun Olam” is the sum-total of Judaism, that truth is relative, and that there is no afterlife…

    • mycroft says:

      “Many mekarvim will argue that the reverse is true. Jews who’ve never been exposed to the falsehoods peddled by the R and C movements are much more receptive to the Emes”

      Any data of how many Jews become BTs who had no connection with Judaism before hand-compared to those who had some connection with Judaism.

      • Arthur says:

        I think if you ask R’ Buchwald he’ll tell you that people who grew up R and C are much better candidates for kiruv than people who grew up with no connection.

  6. Eli Blum says:

    Rabbi Gordimer:

    All you had to (and what you seem to) say to Rabbi Billet is that in America, he may be correct. However, in Israel, where the Charaidim are fighting tooth and nail for everything they get from the state, giving in a millimeter to the non-orthodox “can at times be a game-changer in an extremely volatile environment”.

    Rabbi Billet would then respond that neither he or Rabbi Riskin are Charaidi, so they do not have these concerns. Their concern is keeping people “Jewish-aware” so that they have a chance of joining the Klal of Torah Jews, and C & R do help (David’s point notwithstanding).

    Eilu V’eilu.

    P.S. In the view of many in the states (myself included), Israel would be much better off with American style separation between Church and State, albeit with a “right of return” similar to many European countries that is not based on the “religion” of the immigrant (which truthfully, neither in the current “law of return”, which allows someone who is not Halachicly Jewish to return as well). Perhaps that can be the discussion of a future post.

  7. Dov says:

    As a Mekarev on an extremely liberal campus and having previously spent years on a more right wing campus I have to disagree with the premise. R and C are not getting jews back on track it’s allowing the younger generation of jews to circle their wagons. They are the ones leading assimilation . Guiltless intermarriage and destruction of halacha is their forte. There is no comprimise within the higher eschalons of the movement . URJ and USY speak openly against orthodoxy and jump on painting  every type of Orthodox jew with one brush. Nativ leadership course has classes that are geared toward destroying the lie of Orthodoxy .

    Students the more involved in C/R Judaism the less likely the person will become shomer Torah u’mitzvos.

    I don’t know what reality Rabbi Riskin thinks he sees, but in the US it is clear that associating with C/R simply just placates the masses with easily digestible jewish ritual that dosent challenge anyone’s way of life or beliefs .

     

  8. Jon Baker says:

    R’ Gordimer writes at Times of Israel:

    Many of my friends were immensely impacted by Rabbi Riskin in a most positive way during his early tenure in the United States, as he energetically established Torah institutions of the highest caliber. My friends miss the old Rabbi Riskin. We all wish that he would return.

    I think R’ Gordimer, in calling for a return to the “old” R Riskin, doesn’t realize how radical R’ Riskin’s ideas were when he was acting on them.  Two examples: one, he held the first hakafos for women, on Simchas Torah 1972.  Some women asked him that night, and he took it on his own initiative, as one of the closest students of RYBS, to do so, and then to ask Boston later (easier to ask forgiveness than permission).  RYBS gave tacit approval (bediavad), and gave him guidelines for women holding a non-minyan group service, even though, had one asked him beforehand, he would have refused to allow such a service.

    Second example, and you and R’ Menken wouldn’t think of it this way, but: Kiruv.  Consider that when R’ Riskin joined Lincoln Square and turned it Orthodox in 1966, nobody else (except R’ Mordechai Goldstein, who founded the Diaspora Yeshiva in 1964) outside of Chabad was doing kiruv to adults.  Kiruv was WEIRD.  Chabad was already considered strange (e.g. the Brisker Rav’s comments on the late Rebbe’s ascension to the throne in 1951), so one more thing didn’t matter.  The Moderns were reaching out to high school students, I think in the 1960s, through NCSY, and YU/RIETS had the JSS prep program.  But the Yeshivish only really started tiny motions towards kiruv in 1970, when R Noach Weinberg set up first Ohr Somayach (1970) and then Aish Hatorah (1974).  Which of course have grown tremendously since then.  The moderns, outside of Lincoln Square Synagogue, weren’t doing kiruv among adults.

    R’ Menken and R’ Gordimer found their way into Orthodoxy in the 1980s, by which time there were many choices for ways in.  But when R’ Riskin basically founded Modern kiruv, it was considered strange and radical by the other Moderns as well as the yeshivish.

    • Avrohom Gordimer says:

      I was told by someone present that RYBS did not grant, even on a b’dieved level, permission for women’s hakafos.

      • dr. bill says:

        In those days the Rav ztl allowed rabbis to lead conservative congregations, under very precise guidelines and for a limited number of years.  He allowed mechitzot in synagogues like Lincoln Square that led to its moniker Lincoln Stare.  I davened in one such shul with two distinguished members of the RCA as rabbinic leaders over the years.

        how the Rav dealt with many of these individual situations does not appear consistent to an outside observer; his judgment of circumstances mattered in a manner he never formulated.

        regardless, no one in what we now call centrist orthodoxy raised their voice back then in defining boundaries that would exclude synagogues with any number of activities / configurations, some with much more serious violations of halakha, certainly not the RCA.  there was opposition, but the situations were was not viewed as severe enough to warrant separations.

        from a sociological perspective, perhaps now with a significantly exploding right wing and no threat from conservative judaism, the ability to separate from the left wing of orthodoxy is just easier.  not having any expertise in sociology, it just feels like a reasonable possibility.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Dr Bill is correct but I would add the following to Jonathan Bakers post. LSS set the model for adult Torah education in the MO world. As far as the early years of kiruv in the US some rabbonim tried but there were no organized efforts before TLS and NCSY . look at both Geller’s and Eleffs books if you want the full picture as to the demise of TLS.

         

      • mycroft says:

        Read Geller’s book especially for organizational turfwars  and not wanting competition.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote

        “Read Geller’s book especially for organizational turfwars  and not wanting competition.”

        The real issue was whether the OU or YU would emerge as the major address for non Charedi Orthodoxy, with the NCYI marching to its own tune, until many of its main shuls joined the OU.Many OU shuls , especially out of town looked to the OU for leadership in the areas of shul services, including youth programming which NCSY under R Stolper’s leadership meant embracing Shabbos observance and no mixed dancing-which back then NCSYers embraced, and which their parents viewed as something that no right teenager in his or her right mind did. That was coupled with chapters and regions organized and run by the  NCSYers with volunteer lay and rabbinical advisors and faculty ( well before huge regional events, and a wide range of summer programs) which were culminated annually with regional eventsm, Shabbatonim,  and annual regional and national conventions where NCSYers had a great time,  met others from all over the US and heard lectures from advisors and rabbis from a wide range of yeshivos including but not limited to RIETS. TLS, OTOH, sponsored two TLSes and some mechitah minyanim where many RIETS musmachim had their first attempts at running a minyan and youth group. I suspect that many shuls felt that the OU and NCSY offered more autonomy for them than YU.

      • mycroft says:

        “NCSYers had a great time,  met others from all over the US and heard lectures from advisors and rabbis from a wide range of yeshivos including but not limited to RIETS. TLS, OTOH, sponsored two TLSes and some mechitah minyanim where many RIETS musmachim had their first attempts at running a minyan and youth group. I suspect that many shuls felt that the OU and NCSY offered more autonomy for them than YU.”

        One can argue which schuls would prefer-you are referring to YU TLS after it basically limited itself to TLS even regional TLS-before that time I suspect before your involvement with NCSY that is how long ago it was YUSY ran frequent regional Shabbotonim and I was not living in the Metro NY area at the time and remember them-it disappeared after donor pressure.

      • Yossi says:

        Dr Bill,

        I believe the moniker was Wink and Stare.

      • mycroft says:

        The reason is that we don’t have the Rav who knew when to fight and when not to fight-BTW that was a praise that I once heard the Rav say about someone ‘he knows when to fight and when not to fight”

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-I stand by my post-one must read both Eleff and Geller’s book to get the full picture.

      • mycroft says:

        Steve Brizel
        June 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm
        Mycroft-I stand by my post-one must read both Eleff and Geller’s book to get the full picture.”

        when evaluating Eleff’s book on NCSY one must consider the following from the OU press release:

        “and Rabbi Burg and Ronit Meitlis (Assistant Director of OU Program Development) were consistently supportive of me, looking at rough drafts of the book and putting me in touch with various former and current NCSY officials whose internal documents provided a wealth of information for me. Old NCSY manuals and published documents also came in very handy.” Funding for the book came from NCSY”

        from

        https://www.ou.org/news/yu_student_zev_eleff_writes_history_of_ncsy_1954_1980/

      • Jon Baker says:

        He gave R’ Riskin guidelines for conducting women’s davening groups.  Had he not even allowed it bediavad, he would have stopped R’ Riskin from continuing.  But the LSS Women’s Tefillah Group continues today, and my mother is the treasurer (despite bad vision requiring her to squint at the bank statements).  R’ Mayer Twersky talks about his grandfather’s “unequivocal” opposition to such things, in an article in Tradition, but the documentation in the R’s Frimer article disproves that.

      • mycroft says:

        I certainly believe that the Rav was very traditional about beis haknesses-OTOH he was very revolutionary about womens learning-he even invited in a woman to listen to his summer shiurim he was giving to his talmidim from RIETS in Massachusetts. His attitude towards women in halacha can be illustrated by the story when he was in Germany Yom Kippur and notices women doing korim, feels at first glance that they are right doing it because women in general should do the same as men. Of course, the Rav comes up with his creative difference vchol ham beazarah did korim and women were not found in the azarah. Thus there are things that women are excluded from but the generalrules is absent specific reason women should do/learn what men do.

    • mycroft says:

      “Many of my friends were immensely impacted by Rabbi Riskin in a most positive way during his early tenure in the United States, as he energetically established Torah institutions of the highest caliber. My friends miss the old Rabbi Riskin. We all wish that he would return.

      I think R’ Gordimer, in calling for a return to the “old” R Riskin, doesn’t realize how radical R’ Riskin’s ideas were when he was acting on them. ”

      Agreed.Certainly he had the Torah carried through the womens section during hozaat Hatorah, I heard him advocate having women Rabbis in a sermon at LSS in the early 70s

      “and you and R’ Menken wouldn’t think of it this way, but: Kiruv.  Consider that when R’ Riskin joined Lincoln Square and turned it Orthodox in 1966, nobody else (except R’ Mordechai Goldstein, who founded the Diaspora Yeshiva in 1964) outside of Chabad was doing kiruv to adults.  Kiruv was WEIRD. ”

      Disagree-Kiruv was basically why many Rabbonim went into Rabbonus. By the 50s YU had started TLS and a very big Yeshiva University Synagogue Youth-for a good description as to the reasons why YU dropped its Synagogue Youth program see Victor Gellers book. YU by the 50s maybe before was very much into Adult education for laymen in synagogues.

      • Jon Baker says:

        You’re not disagreeing.  I said there was kiruv to kids, but not to the post-college audience.  TLS and NCSY were for HS kids.  JSS was for college boys who could be induced to go to YU.  And adult ed for laymen in synagogues was not so much aimed at beginners, except for LSS – see Samuel Heilman’s books on Jewish learning circles in synagogues.  The other Manhattan synagogues didn’t have adult ed either until considerably later.

        You’re not going to draw in the unaffiliated with a blatt shiur, or a mishna circle, which is what more traditional shuls provided, per Heilman.  You are, by approaching them “baasher hu sham”, on the level they’re willing to hear.

        LSS, through the Beginners Minyan, through Rabbi Riskin’s Wednesday Night Lecture Series, through pintele yid outreach with the Torah Van and Sukkah Mobile, etc. appealed to the unaffiliated or unorthodox adults.  “Are you Jewish?  Would you like to make a blessing over the lulav?  Would you like to have a bite to eat in the Sukkah?” – I used to do that in the late ’70s. I don’t think anybody does that other than Chabad today.  Some of the people we drew in that way became frum and major characters in the shul.  That sort of work brought people to the shul, and they stayed for the Wedneday Night Lecture Series, for the Rabbi Cohen Beginners Talmud Class, for Rabbi Buchwald’s Crash Course in Judaism, etc.  And that brought in the huge singles crowd.  It wasn’t the ability to stare across the bowl at girls (it was plenty far you wouldn’t see much detail), it was reaching out to them as Jews who yearned to know something more.

      • mycroft says:

        Agreed it will not be the blast and Mishnah shiur which will attract the non committed-but what do you think Synagogues were doing in the 50s and 60s? IIRC correctly adult Ed was not meant to attract the yeshiva educated. The Gemarrah shiurim did. YU even blessed schuls local Ed by giving adult Ed certificates attesting to study. RSR was a the speaker at his chat has mocha, was very dynamic, he improved outreach but to pretend not existent before him is false.

  9. Y. Ben-David says:

    Regarding the question of whether it is better to encourage unaffiliated American Jews to at least get  involved with the R’s and C’s or not, my experience is that for the non-observant Jew  we must clarify about how the person feels about his Jewish identity.  I spoke with someone who did kiruv in the Communist USSR before he left in the 1980’s and he told me he would start by asking “are you a Jew? What does that mean to you?  What has Judaism contributed during world history? Do you want to be part of the ongoing Jewish project?”. Many said they weren’t interested, but others said they were and became observant.
    Many of the American Jews I knew in the 1970’s who became observant already had a strong Jewish identity.  In my own case, the shock of the Yom Kippur War moved me to get involved. Of course, having a living Jewish state where Judaism is in the air (unlike the in the US) has gotten many who have had a taste of life in the real Jewish state has sparked the return to Torah.

    From what I see, the R’s, many C’s, and most particularly, the Reconstructionists are in the forefront of denying Jewish peoplehood  and negating Israel and Zionism, and are pushing a new sort of Jewish identity where the Jew is ultimately a “social justice/ progressive citizen of the world” who takes a few customs that come out of Jewish tradition and which seem to correspond to this universalist view of things and they call that “Judaism”.  This means that that it will be difficult to communicate Jewishly with someone who has such a watered down view of what being a Jews really means. However, the inevitable rise of open antisemitism in the US , particularly on campus, will no doubt make many young Jews who until now have avoided confronting their Jewish identity take another look, as happened in German and the USSR when antisemitism exploded in those countries in the past.

  10. yg says:

     

    Jon Baker says:

     

     

      says:                                         Jon Baker

    June 27, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    He gave R’ Riskin guidelines for conducting women’s davening groups.  Had he not even allowed it bediavad, he would have stopped R’ Riskin from continuing.  But the LSS Women’s Tefillah Group continues today, and my mother is the treasurer (despite bad vision requiring her to squint at the bank statements).  R’ Mayer Twersky talks about his grandfather’s “unequivocal” opposition to such things, in an article in Tradition, but the documentation in the R’s Frimer article disproves that.

    Reply

     

     

    Many, many of the Rav’s talmidim discuss the Rav’s style (with a few exceptions) of not imposing his binding authority on others even when he vehemently disagreed…

     

    The documentation supports RMT.  See the following.

     

    http://hirhurim.blogspot.co.il/2004/04/womens-prayer-groups-rav-soloveitchiks.html

    The attitude of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (AKA R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, R. Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, “The Rav”) towards Women’s Prayer Groups (WPGs) is a matter of contention, indeed hot debate. His opinion is very important because the proponents of WPGs are exclusively Modern Orthodox and R. Soloveitchik was largely the guiding light of American Modern Orthodoxy during the mid-twentieth century. His students are generally the current leaders of American Modern Orthodoxy and his shadow still looms large over the community. R. Soloveitchik’s opposition to any practice is a major obstacle for any scholar to overcome.

     

    The results of a major investigation into R. Soloveitchik’s view was published by Rabbis Aryeh and Dov Frimer in their article “Women’s Prayer Services – Theory and Practice” in Tradition Winter 1998. The two authors conducted dozens of interviews with people who had discussed the issue with R. Soloveitchik throughout the years and attempted to chart the historical development of R. Soloveitchik’s views. Their report has not gone unchallenged, and I will try to sort through the evidence and arrive at what I believe to be the correct conclusion (which is not worth much because I never even met R. Soloveitchik, but this is my blog so I’ll write my opinion). Two other important reports are those of R. Soloveitchik’s grandson, R. Mayer Twersky, in an article titled “Halakhic Values and Halakhic Decisions: Rav Soloveitchik’s Pesak Regarding Women’s Prayer Groups”, originally published in Tradition Spring 1998, and that of his nephew, R. Moshe Meiselman, titled “The Rav, Feminism and Public Policy: An Insider’s Overview” and published in Tradition Fall 1998.

     

    Establishing R. Soloveitchik’s Opposition

    The Frimers report that R. Soloveitchik “was of the view that a women’s prayer service, if properly structured, could be conducted in accordance with halakha. Nonetheless, the Rav was most hesitant about women’s tefilla groups as a general practice and felt that they should not be encouraged. Consistently, he would recommend to his students not to hold such services.” The wording here is a bit soft. R. Soloveitchik “felt that they should not be encouraged” and “would recommend” not to establish them. From what I understand, R. Soloveitchik was quite adamant in his opposition to these groups. He did not recommend to his students that they not establish them; he told his students not to but when they disobeyed him he still maintained contact with them and answered all of their questions (R. Meiselman discusses at length this particular aspect of R. Soloveitchik’s personality). R. Twersky refers to his grandfather’s position as being a “consistent, unequivocal opposition to women’s tefilla groups.” Similarly, R. Meiselman writes that “the Rav halakhically forbade, without equivocation, women’s prayer groups.” The soft wording chosen by the Frimers is misleading because, while technically correct, it gives the impression that R. Soloveitchik was not really opposed to WPGs and only gave friendly advice to his students who asked. The only evidence to support that contention is the parameters he offered to those who told him that, regardless of his opinion, they were going to hold WPGs and asked him for guidelines on how to do so. Rather than abandon them, as many would, R. Soloveitchik risked the possibility of being misunderstood and gave them guidelines on how to proceed. The Frimers report:

    The Rav shared with R. Feuerstein that a group of women studying at Brandeis University had approached him on the matter. The Rav was not in favor of the prayer group, but it was clear to the Rav that the women were not prepared to listen and would proceed under any circumstance. The Rav consequently gave them halakhic guidelines similar to the ones he later gave to R. Wachstock and R. Riskin… R. Shlomo Riskin, then rabbi at Lincoln Square Synagogue, had been among the first people to discuss the women’s services and hakafot issue with R. Soloveitchik, sometime in late 1971… The Rav gave R. Riskin the same halakhic guidelines he gave to R. Wachstock… Nonetheless, the Rav expressed his view that women’s services were “tokenism”-to which the Rav objected… Moreover, the Rav believed that it was not worth “the political price.” Despite all the above, R. Riskin maintains that the Rav conveyed to him a sense that he had confidence in R. Riskin’s judgment of his community’s needs. Accordingly, for Simhat Torah 5733 (October 1, 1972), R. Riskin arranged for a women’s service to meet in the synagogue’s beit midrash.

     

    In other words, R. Soloveitchik told R. Riskin not to hold a WPG even in the kiruv context of Lincoln Square Synagogue at that time, but R. Riskin did so anyway and followed R. Soloveitchik’s guidelines for those who were not willing to listen to him on the propriety of WPGs. One has to really strain to find any positive attitude towards WPGs coming from R. Soloveitchik.

     

    • mycroft says:

      “One has to really strain to find any positive attitude towards WPGs coming from R. Soloveitchik.”

      AGREED!! but OTOH the Rav clearly di not believe in making this issue into the civil war issue that it has become. I’ll repeat a story from a living Rav acquaintance of mine-during the mid late 70s his schuls women wanted to have a WTG in schul-he asked the Rav who stated absolutely not but the Rav sua sponte told him that if they organize the group outside of schul premises the Rabbi need not get involved-clearly not the yehareg val yaavor impression that one gets from many current RY.

       

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in relevant part:

    “when evaluating Eleff’s book on NCSY one must consider the following from the OU press release:
    “and Rabbi Burg and Ronit Meitlis (Assistant Director of OU Program Development) were consistently supportive of me, looking at rough drafts of the book and putting me in touch with various former and current NCSY officials whose internal documents provided a wealth of information for me. Old NCSY manuals and published documents also came in very handy.” Funding for the book came from NCSY”

    The full quote, which was posted from an article in the Commentator was as follows:
    “Zev says most of his research was not conducted through interviews but through archival research. “Yeshiva’s archive was a great resource for me to utilize, and Rabbi Burg and Ronit Meitlis (Assistant Director of OU Program Development) were consistently supportive of me, looking at rough drafts of the book and putting me in touch with various former and current NCSY officials whose internal documents provided a wealth of information for me. Old NCSY manuals and published documents also came in very handy.” Funding for the book came from NCSY, but Zev personally did not get paid to write it. “This book, while a labor of love for me and extraordinary fun, was certainly accomplished through a team effort.”

    If one reads the book in question, it is evident that Eleff did what any journalist and or historian should do-make the necessary contacts, interview the critical personalities and obtain access to necessary documentation. The book in question portrayed the early years of NCSY in a sense that neither was self congratulatory nor hagiographic. OTOH, one must delve into the issue beyond Eleff’s excellent book and Geller’s book, which was viewed by many as hagiographic if one wants to begin to know NCSY grew and TLS did not. One wonders why Mycroft continues to denigrate the Eleff book and imply that the contents therein were dictated by NCSY.

    • mycroft says:

      “The full quote, which was posted from an article in the Commentator was as follows”

      I didn’t read the Commentator I cited the OU Press Release. It is not disputed that funding for Eleffs book came from NCSY and that among others who looked at rough drafts of the book.

      According to the press release Eleff states that most of his book was not done through interviews but through archival research. Do you believe that a paper trail would be left and given to researchers for what Geller states. BTW-I don’t need Geller’s book for that info it was widely known at the time and I knew it then -well over half a century ago.

      Institutional rivalries are not new and donors have often used threats of withholding money to get there way. TLS and YUSY were growing until the message was given to YU.

      It is very possible that Eleff may not even have been aware of what happened-he wasn’t born at the time of the incident and I wouldn’t expect documents to be found about it.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-your quote was an OU Press Release which you did not quote in its entirety, but which the OU noted was the verbatim contents of a Commentator article. Why don’t you read Eleff’s book to see who he met, who he talked with and which documents he had access to before insinuating that NCSY because it funded the book, had editorial control over the final product-a charge that is not substantiated by the press release or the contents of the book when read by the average objective reader. As far as as your claims re TLS and YUSY-can you point to a single national convention held by YUSY where officers were elected, a platform debated, etc and whether TLS’s events were not confined to the big TLS seminars? NCSY, through its regional structure, offered more opportunities for kids to meet, assume leadership roles and was driven by the chapter and regional leadership with generally unpaid advisors, as opposed to the same being dictated to by YU.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    those interested on the rise of separate dancing in American Orthodoxy should read the following linked article.https://unpblog.com/2016/06/01/from-the-desk-of-zev-eleff-a-touchy-subject/?utm_content=buffer9bcd0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=plus.google.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Pin It on Pinterest