Some Jewish community leaders expressed disappointment over the recent resolution of the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading Modern Orthodox rabbinic association, opposing the ordination of women. By contrast, I was greatly encouraged by the RCA resolution that called for the creation of “halachically and communally appropriate professional opportunities” for women scholars.
Brian Burstin has been praying at Congregation Talmud Torah of Flatbush in Brooklyn since 1967, when he was 11.
Before that, his parents were members at the stately yellow brick Modern Orthodox synagogue on Coney Island Avenue, near the busy Avenue J kosher shopping strip in the Midwood section. The shul's late Rabbi Leo Landman, one of only three spiritual leaders in the synagogue's 80-year-history, performed Burstin's wedding.
Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, a towering figure in the Modern Orthodox community who long before it was fashionable fought for women unable to get Jewish divorces and who was instrumental in founding The Jewish Week, died here Monday. He was 98 and died of natural causes.
In October 1979, Honey Rackman was asked to help a friend whose daughter was being denied a "get," or Jewish divorce. A group of Modern Orthodox women held a meeting in their Flatbush, Brooklyn, neighborhood to discuss how to help.
Since then she became a tireless advocate for "agunot," or "chained women," whose husbands refuse to grant their wives a religious divorce, leaving them in a kind of purgatory.
On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, the sidewalks of lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan are bustling with last-minute holiday shoppers. But two flights up, in a nondescript building near the Banana Republic, a half-dozen rabbis and laypeople are concerned only with the liberation of Jewish women.
They comprise a controversial new rabbinical court, or bet din, which is granting speedy, affordable divorces to agunot — known as “woman in chains” — whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious divorce, or get.
The nation’s largest Modern Orthodox rabbinical group is preparing to denounce the legal principles used by some advocates of agunot — Orthodox Jewish women whose husbands refuse them a religious divorce. Within the next few weeks, the Jewish legal court associated with the Rabbinical Council of America, Inc. will issue a detailed response calling the halachic principles published by Agunah, Inc. “erroneous and misleading,” said Rabbi Yonah Reiss, director of the New York-based Bet Din of America.
Advocates of a creative method to dissolve religious marriages on behalf of Orthodox Jewish women have for the first time publicly issued a detailed explanation of their process. In a two-page advertisement on pages 26 and 27 in this week’s Jewish Week, the group, Agunah Inc., in cooperation with Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, one of Modern Orthodoxy’s leading figures, published the “Halachic Principles and Procedures For Freeing Agunot.” Agunot, Hebrew for chained wives, refers to Jewish women whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious divorce, or get.
Several major national Orthodox rabbinical groups this week repudiated the work of a New York City rabbinical court that has gained popularity with women by “freeing” chained wives, or agunot, stuck in bad marriages.
Strongly worded statements were issued separately on Tuesday by both the rigidly Orthodox Agudath Israel of America and the increasingly right-wing National Council of Young Israel, asserting that the rabbinical court was operating outside the bounds of halacha, or Jewish law.
Striking out at a controversial new religious divorce court that says it has freed more than 150 women from recalcitrant husbands, a group of 31 mainstream Orthodox rabbis has denounced the bet din as illegitimate.