Open Orthodoxy Update, Parshas Ki Savo
An Open Orthodox congregation in Chicago wished a male couple mazal tov on the “birth” of a baby boy, saying “may this child’s life be filled with the insights of Torah,” rather than Torah (or Shemiras HaMitzvos).
OO Rabbi Asher Lopatin, former President of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, “Thanks G-d” that a Torah Commandment cannot be observed today.
Open Orthodox Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz continues to promote the views of non-Orthodox Judaism by hosting several panel discussions including non-Orthodox clergy. He also says being Jewish, “is not binary it is a spectrum,” and that pluralism is an “essential part of Torah.”
Yanklowitz called pluralism “a fundamental tenet of the Torah” in the past, earning a strong rebuke from Rav Ezra Schwartz, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, who stated that this was a “violation of a fundamental of our faith.” Yanklowitz has now restated his claim nonetheless — making it clear that his belief system and that of HaRav Ezra Schwartz are mutually incompatible.
Yanklowitz also hosted a discussion of Mormon History and Theology delivered by a former Mormon bishop. Yanklowitz defended his decision to host the bishop with name calling and by implying that Torah is not objective truth.
Far from being an outlier, Yanklowitz has the approval of Open Orthodoxy’s leadership: Rabbis Avi Weiss, Asher Lopatin, and other OO leaders serve on the advisory board of his Valley Beit Medrash. In a thorough, scathing article, Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer describes “Open Orthodoxy’s Superstar Clergyman and His Long Trail of Destruction.”
Beth Sholom Congregation‘s president, a member of the Orthodox Union, declares his desire to hire another woman rabbi in defiance of OU policy.
Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, led by R. David Wolkenfeld, a graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, will conduct a women’s Torah reading in the main sanctuary (with men present). Regular services will be conducted in a different room. They claim that this represents “no ritual or halakhic innovation whatsoever.”
Open Orthodox rabbis continue issuing kosher certification.
Ysoscher Katz, an Open Orthodox leader, once again makes an absurd and non-Orthodox claim about the veracity of the Bible: “Factuality is irrelevant in that context. The proclamation is a-factual.” He also says, “Factual validity is immaterial to the religious believer.” He discusses a claim of Bible critics that the prohibition against male homosexual acts was not said by God. The reason he rejects this claim is not because it is absolutely baseless and false, but rather, “because my orthodox identification does not allow me to embrace such a claim.” His communal “identification” seems to force him to reject ideas which he in the comments calls, “compelling.”
In an article, Katz says, “We need to plead for forgiveness for the discrimination inherent in being orthodox.”
Torat Chayim is an Open Orthodox “rabbinical association” (of “over 240 men & women”) that continues to portray deviation from Torah as “Orthodox Judaism.” They shared a post by Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz stating his embarrassment at certain “Halakhic approaches” which he deemed “outdated and patriarchal.” They also shared an article from Dr. Zev Farber, who previously stated that the Torah has multiple authors and biblical characters did not exist. In the cited article, he lists what he deems “ethically problematic” Torah laws.
Torat Chayim also shared an article by member Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo claiming, “”Whether or not the Temple will be re-built is not our concern, nor is it our dream. It is of little importance.” They also boasted that two of its members led prayers at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. Torat Chayim was behind the recent letter from 75 Open Orthodox rabbis supporting the LGBTQ community. The Coalition for Jewish Values, representing over 1000 rabbonim, said that the Torat Chayim’s Open Orthodox clergy were “falsely depicted in media reports as “American and Israeli Orthodox rabbis.”
In a recent speech, Mark Trencher, the Director of Nishma Research, highlighted the determination of his research study that a “higher percentage of Open Orthodox considered their children to be less observant than themselves.” Like the Reform and Conservative movements, OO seems unlikely to sustain itself over the long haul.