Maharat Ordination Not Kosher, Says RCA
05/08/13
Photo Galleria: 

While encouraging advanced learning of halacha for Orthodox women, the Rabbinical Council of America says the upcoming ordination of three women at Yeshiva Maharat in Riverdale is a “violation of our mesorah (tradition).”

The umbrella group for 1,000 rabbis in North America, Israel and elsewhere released a statement Tuesday saying “we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.”

The graduation is scheduled for Sunday, June 16th, at the Ramaz School on the Upper East Side. The Maharat yeshiva was founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Rabbi Weiss could not be reached for comment at press time.

The invitation to the event says it will celebrate “the ordination as clergy of our first three graduates,” Ruth Balinsky Freedman, Rachel Kohl Finegold and Abby Brown Scheier.

In 2009, Rabbi Weiss granted smicha to Sara Hurwitz, giving her the title raba, in contradiction of Orthodox norms. Raba Hurwitz is now the dean of Yeshiva Maharat.

editor@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

07/03/2013 - 19:48

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.

Now that I watched the inauguration...and being an orthodox woman - who would never take on such an endevour..come to think of it - what these women have done...I can tell you chabad teenagers in my city get some sort of smicha in a year...so I am not sure how we can rule out these ladies who have clearly seriously invested. when you send your child to a top school - you want to have the best teachers...not teh wives of great teacher....surely?

Is that really the very best they could come up with? deviation from mesorah?

The question for Rabbi Weiss is -- "Why??" Why is this necessary? Do women in Modern Orthodoxy not have sufficient avenues to spirituality, participation in the community and Torah learning? Clearly they do. So, why do women need to have exactly the same status as men? Doesn't that go contrary to our Mesorah and to simple biological reality?

Men and women are not the same, and the Torah recognizes this and assigns men and women different roles within the framework of Jewish life. These boundaries are no inelastic, but there are and must be limits. Rabbi Weiss has crossed the line in the name of "progressive" or "liberal" values, not Jewish values. His conclusion and his end goal were predetermined and he, like the Conservative movement, worked to find a way to accomplish that goal -- egalitarianism -- Jewish tradition be damned. I used to admire him but now have lost all respect for him.

my compliments to the RCA for having the courage to stand up to the deviationists. It is sad that Weiss & Berman have decided to repeat the failure of Conservative Judaisim within our own community.

Please see the statement issued today (05/09) by the International Rabbinic Fellowship

http://www.internationalrabbinicfellowship.org/news/irf-statement-congratulating-graduates-yeshivat-maharat

For decades, the Conservative movement has been moving to the left, and many say that it is in decline. Rabbi Weiss's movement, Orthodox in name, and non-orthodox in practice, is taking it's place.

RCA rabbis across the country repeatedly preach Achdus and Kiruv as the one and only way in which to insure observant Jewish continuity and identity in this country. It is therefore refreshing to see that when all the fluffy and politically correct Achdus is peeled away there is still some spine and some courage in the leadership. Rabbi Avi Weiss and his "Rabbah" and "Maharat" is dead wrong and always has been wrong in his activism on behalf of the far left spectrum of Orthodoxy. As a pro-Israel activist he certainly earned widespread respect. However it seems that his activism is not too selective as he has morphed into a Modern Orthodox feminist - a slope that will ultimately lead him to condone and encourage Aliyot for women, women doing Kriat Hatorah, women counted in a Minyan, "egalitarian services" with Women of the Wall, Tefillin sized specifically for women, ordination of homosexual Rabbis, etc. etc. The list goes on and on and can be found justified, codified, indexed and sequenced in the so-called "halachic" rulings of the Masorti in Israel and the Conservative movement in the US. Whatever Weiss' intent, the result is to drive a wedge between the so-called "Modern" Orthodox and the mainstream Orthodox. In the end, his agenda is doomed by the demographics. While he will undoubtedly capture many Ramahniks and Schechter grads who are refugees from the Conservative movement, his divisiveness will ultimately marginalize and destroy Jewish continuity. As it stands there appears to be very little space between the self-hating "Forward-reading" Jews and the Orthofems. With everything that is going on with our people, do we really need this?

I am an Orthodox Jewish male who is ashamed of the RCA's stance. It has become the Jewish Taliban of our times. In the early 1900's there was much opposition to the establishment of Bais Yaakov schools that educated Jewish women, apparently because it was "against the Mesorah." We all benefit from having more educated Jewish women, even more so when they are in leadership roles. This should be encouraged. Wake up rabbis, and smell the coffee.

Kudos to the RCA to stand by its principles even when politically difficult. And a big thank you to all RCA members who had voted for this resolution a few years ago, which had then passed unopposed! At experimenting times like this, the community needs leadership, and sometimes that requires saying no.

I wish the new women rabbis - maharot or rabbot much success. Alu v'hatslichu!

Kudos to the RCA, the largest Orthodox rabbinical organization for standing up for the truth and defending our mesora against those who bow to decending norms and polpular demands,

The slippery slope that Geolei Yisroel warned about 60 years ago has taken place in the Conservative movement- many of which use musical instruments on Shabbos, count women in a minyan and have female cantos.

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.