No-confidence vote in leadership sought after threat to expel Syracuse synagogue.
In the wake of an unprecedented move by the National Council of Young Israel to expel a member congregation in upstate Syracuse, a rebellion is brewing among some of the Orthodox congregations affiliated with the movement.
The challenge to the National Council surfaced during a conference call last Thursday with representatives of the organization’s nearly 150 member congregations.
Rabba Sara Hurwitz of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, who was invited to speak at the Young Israel of Hewlett on a Shabbat several weeks ago, has come and gone. But a flare-up over her title continues to reverberate in the Five Towns community, prompting rabbis and others there to lash out at each other.
One of the biggest challenges facing Orthodox Jewish communities is rarely spoken about publicly. By admitting women into the cadre of the religious hierarchy, those who traditionally hold this place must make room to allow new members to be part of their ranks. It comes as no surprise that those in power are reluctant to relinquish it and evoke women’s modesty, biology or formal position naming issues to hinder the negotiation between present demands and past traditions.
Last week, thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews came out for mass protests across Israel. What was the contested issue: defense for Israel? Support of Agunot? Parents against child molestation? An end to violating business ethics and Israeli law? Not in the least bit. Sadly, this mass protest, the largest of its kind in years, was for the right to keep Sephardim out of Ashkenazi schools.
As someone who has worked with numerous survivors of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community over the past 10 years, I have been privileged to bear witness to the stories of people who, after having their voices taken away from them, become able to speak for the first time, in the course of their healing, about the horrors they have endured.
I probably should wait a few days before writing this article. It would, undoubtedly, come out much less hot and bothered if I did. But deadlines being what they are, I am obliged to write it now. I apologize in advance- I think- if it offends certain sensibilities...
‘Watershed’ Lanner expose has led to communal efforts to deal with improper sexual behavior.
Editor and Publisher
The tenth anniversary of the public exposure in these pages of the “Lanner scandal” provides an opportunity to reflect on, and appreciate, how much has changed for the better in the last decade in responding to rabbinic sexual abuse.
With it all, though, communal vigilance is still vital because the problem remains, as do the impulses to overlook or cover up allegations of wrongdoing in high places. And there are voices in the community calling for putting ethical standards in place in synagogues, schools and camps.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may have declared the age of mass aliyah over, but aliyah from North America has ticked up in the last few years. And among those making the move this summer is a who’s who of Modern Orthodoxy.
Prominent rabbis and educators from the New York area, including Ari Berman, spiritual leader of The Jewish Center, a leading congregation on the Upper West Side, were feted last week by the Jewish Agency for Israel in its annual Olim Farewell ball.
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.