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.

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13 Responses

  1. Lacosta says:

    The unfortunate thing about these lemmings racing forward thru the ‘bridge out’ warning is the thousands of like minded Jews they will take down with them. I fear the only treatment for this virulent cancer will ultimately be to dismember so called ‘open orthodoxy’ from the corpus of yahadus, because the theology of these people is so malignant that only a very wide margin of resection ( plus hi dose chemo and radiation) has a chance of saving the rest of the Torah world from this malignant zeitgeist carcinoma….

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Lacosta, What do you think is causing Jews to follow them at all? Are people unable/unwilling to process information critically, or are they moved by emotion only?

  3. mavin says:

    Excellent comment,Lacoste. These so-called rabbis are no rabbis but are erev rav who are at war with the Ribbono Shel Olom and His Holy Torah that He gave to us, his children, the real JEWS.
    These ‘rabbis’ and their movement are a bunch of sick puppies and they together with the rest of their cohorts concocted a scheme wherein they call themselves ‘orthodox’, so they can live and promote their lifestyle while trying to dupe Jews ignorant of any Yiddishkeit, that all this is okay by the Creator, c’v. They will self-destruct.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gordimers linked article is must reading.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    Yanklowitz, like many who share and support his views, reject criticism rooted in legitimate Torah sources as bullying — when in fact their views on Torah Halacha and what it means to be a Jew committed to Torah and Mitzvos cannot be reconciled with traditional Jewish views. They indulge in their views as to what it means to be Jewish to satisfy the contemporary Zeitgeist. There is a world of difference between legitimate criticism and bullying, as well as recognizing that voicing his or her opinion does not create immunity from legitimate criticism.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    When someone in the course of a debate on any issue raises the claim of bullying look carefully. That IMO is akin to a snowflake claiming that he or she is entitled to a so called safe space immune from any real discussion as to the merits or lack thereof of the opinion voiced. IMO Yanklowitz and Co. can be fairly accused of refusing to allow for any legitimate critique of their views despite rhe fact that the same cannot be rationalized as being within the normative boundaries of halacha and hashkafa. No amount of claims of bullying ala a snowflakes can change that fact.

  7. lacosta says:

    to bob miller—
    we know that even in the haredi community [as well ] there are emuna issues ie people going thru the motions without fundamentals of emuna or even as non -believers. but the haredi society [especially hassidic ] is much harder to leave from. in MO , let’s assume middle of road parents and children will gravitate weaker. since there us no media filtration , the young generation is totally saturated with culture AND PC values. thus, anything sex related is muttar and gays are so nice how can you be against them. you start with weak on halacha and add in following goyish hashkafa and you aren’t left with much…. LWMO is giving them everything they see around them and therefore already believe….
    no data, just gut feeling

  8. Bob Miller says:

    These days, the real bullying takes place when radicals try to shout down and suppress all traditional voices in all situations. Anyone who has seen radicals in action or tried to reason with them knows what I mean. This clique can call itself orthodox, open, or whatever, but its playbook is from the Left.

  9. dave says:

    Interesting article by R. Gordimer where he says that Yanklowitz who was born not Jewish refuses to name the Bais Din that converted him. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t that make him halachically not Jewish?

  10. Bob Miller says:

    Now that this problem is so clear, it should prompt mainstream MO to reconsider the permissible degree of cultural and academic engagement with today’s general society. General society is not static.

  11. Chava Rubin says:

    In my opinion, Shmully Yanklowitz sounds like a white version of Al Sharpton.

  12. Dr bill says:

    Allowing comments like ms. Rubin’s above is more informative than the article itself. It reveals a great deal about your perspective.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      Perhaps you should ask what she meant. If she meant he’s a racist, that would obviously not be sustained. But if she is asserting that he is an ignorant blowhard who is damaging the social fabric (or, in this case, the religious fabric of the Jewish community), you would have to argue on point.

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