Orthodox rabbis seek ‘consensus’ resolution at meeting; will it satisfy anyone?
Editor And Publisher
As the controversy over women’s roles within Modern Orthodoxy has roiled over the past few months, the leadership of the largest body of Orthodox rabbis in the U.S. has consistently pointed to its upcoming national conference as the time for sorting out, dealing with and resolving the thorny issue.
Now, on the eve of the Rabbinical Council of America’s convention — and with women edging closer to rabbinic duties in some high-profile synagogues — some members suggest expectations may be too high.
It is no secret that Rabbi Matt Tropp's job as director of the largest region in the country of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) was on the line following allegations of teen abuse by Rabbi Baruch Lanner two years ago. Not only had Rabbi Tropp long called Rabbi Lanner his rebbe and mentor, but he was considered his "hatchet man," according to several former NCSY members.
As the "Sensation" storm raged last month, the fact that a Catholic mayor was accusing the Brooklyn Museum's Jewish director of promoting Catholic bashing was noted but not highlighted.
Now with the controversy being decided in Manhattan Federal Court, Jewish involvement in the affair is being scrutinized further, even as it becomes clearer that the city's Jewish community has split along political lines.
After months of deliberation, a group of Orthodox scientists and Jewish law experts this week announced its endorsement of cloning cells for therapeutic purposes, but opposed cell cloning for reproductive purposes.
The ruling, by a team of Orthodox experts assembled by the nation’s two largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella groups — the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America — appears to put all three major Jewish denominations in agreement on the complicated issue of cloning research.
Reform and Conservative leaders are pointing to the findings of a poll — ironcially, commissioned by an Orthodox group — as proof that Israelis are increasingly receptive to the liberal streams of Judaism. The non-Orthodox leaders contend that the responses to six of 16 questions from a recent survey commissioned by the Orthodox Union, a large, mainstream American group, prove that the Conservative and Reform movements have gained significant recognition and support among Israelis in the religious pluralism battle.
Declaring that he is “not a monster” and acknowledging errors in judgment — but stopping short of apologizing to the girls he sexually abused — Rabbi Baruch Lanner was sentenced last week to seven years in a New Jersey state prison.
Rabbi Lanner, 52, once one of America’s most prominent Modern Orthodox youth leaders, was taken away in handcuffs Friday from the Monmouth County courtroom in Freehold, N.J., after delivering an emotional plea for mercy that invoked the Holocaust, God and his grandchild.
Richard Joel was unequivocal: one strike and you should be out.
The head of the Jewish campus organization Hillel, and chairman of the commission convened to look into the Orthodox Union’s mishandling of the misdeeds of former youth leader Rabbi Baruch Lanner, said any religious leader behaving in a sexually or physically abusive manner should be kicked out of whatever position he inhabits.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Joel. “Leadership is a right, not a privilege.”