web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



ULTIMATE NEBECH?

How Little Must One Know to Be Fired from a Reform Temple?

She became a rabbinic associate in 2008 at the temple, then agreed to enroll in a distance learning-program, but didn't.

Rescinded Reform Rabbi Keren Alpert (L), and Reform Rabbi Daniel Sime (R) on Rosh Hashana. She was too busy to take the distance-learning course and they ordained her anyway, and then, what a shanda.

Rescinded Reform Rabbi Keren Alpert (L), and Reform Rabbi Daniel Sime (R) on Rosh Hashana. She was too busy to take the distance-learning course and they ordained her anyway, and then, what a shanda.
Photo Credit: Temple Beth El

Share Button

Keren Alpert, a Reform rabbi at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, was forced to resigned after temple officials said she admitted to deceiving them about her rabbinical credentials, the Detroit News reported.

Alpert’s resignation was “sadly accepted,” board president Raymond Rosenfeld the congregation in a letter.

“In recent days, Keren admitted that over the past five years she was not truthful with the clergy, leadership and congregation,” Rosenfeld wrote last Thursday. “Specifically, she did not initiate or complete a rabbinic training program, and did not disclose this fact. Accordingly both her ordination and her position at Temple Beth El were accepted under false pretenses.”

Temple Beth El was founded in 1850 in the city of Detroit, and is the oldest Jewish congregation in Michigan. It currently has a membership of almost 1200 families and is led by reform Rabbi Daniel B. Syme.

Rosenfeld said Alpert became a rabbinic associate in 2008 at the temple, then agreed to enroll in a distance learning-program afterward and celebrated her ordination in 2012.

But, according to Rosenfeld, Alpert never enrolled in that distance learning. He said Alpert told him that she was planning to complete the program but became too busy.

OK. Lets figure this out. The requirement of a reform Rabbi in terms of knowledge of Jewish stuff goes as follows (cited from CCAR.net):

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Admissions Guidelines … specify that all applicants for membership to our Conference must have earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts (or its equivalent) from a recognized institution of higher learning, and the Master’s degree in Jewish Studies (or its equivalent).

Rabbinic graduates of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and of the Leo Baeck College of London are eligible for CCAR membership without interview or examination, provided that they apply within four years after ordination. Rabbinic graduates of other “approved seminaries” may be admitted to the CCAR following a process of interview or examination (which may include academic examination).

Graduates of seminaries and yeshivot not on the “approved” list can be admitted following an investigation of the quality of those schools and of their courses of study. This is a crucial point: we do not claim that only the graduates of “approved seminaries” are worthy of admission to the Conference. Others may join as well, provided they can prove that their rabbinical education meets standards of excellence similar to those of the recognized schools.

On the other hand, a private ordination will not be accepted, for the ordination of students by individual rabbis whose programs of study are not supervised by any responsible authority endangers the maintenance of any and all standards of educational excellence. The rabbis of your community can certainly develop some admissions criteria of their own, patterned after those of the CCAR and the other rabbinical associations. These associations will certainly assist you as you seek information concerning the programs of study at rabbinical schools with which you are not familiar.

So it’s not clear, really, if the CCAR recognized rabbis must be able to read a page of gemorah (the vast majority just can’t, go ahead, test them) – but it’s clear that even the CCAR standards are above admitting someone with an online education. And yet Reform Rabbi Keren Alpert, apparently, didn’t even get that much Jewish education.

Rosenfeld called her departure a “tremendous loss” and said he expects a replacement will be hired by next summer. She’s probably a nice lady and was very useful to her employers.

That’s precisely the point: I am sometimes taken aback by wonderful acts and events carried out by the Reform. Food drives and concerts, afternoon programs, summer camps, picnics. Why must they insist, though, on calling themselves Rabbi?

Of course, since the termination of the ordination in Eretz Israel, roughly 1,500 years ago, no one can call themselves “rabbi” in the traditional sense of the title, meaning someone whose ordination can be traced back to Moses—so argues the CCAR website. But why would a movement who made departure from adherence to halachic law its banner, insist on using this title?

It’s true that because of the weakening of the Jewish center in Eretz Israel our rabbis are no longer connected to that chain – but they adhere to the values and they study the same oral tradition as did the men who were legitimately called Rabbis. Why would someone who disregards—as matter of policy—the teachings of the Rabbis insist on calling herself Rabbi?

Share Button

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

42 Responses to “How Little Must One Know to Be Fired from a Reform Temple?”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Just another cheap shot at the Reform movement by someone who doesn't even consider Reform Jews as Jewish. Tell me, Yanover, what's the percentage of Reform rabbis who are convicted criminals as compared to the percentage of Orthodox rabbis who are?

  2. Yori Yanover says:

    Fred Neulander cut off his wife's head.

    That's big, right?

  3. Dan Silagi says:

    Yori Yanover So all Reform rabbis are like Fred Neulander (a fellow Jerseyan, unfortunately)? On my side, I can start with Judah Maccabee, who beheaded many Jews whose "crime" was apostasy. I'm not sure Maccabee was an ordained rabbi, but if he was, he certainly wasn't Reform. Fact is, the proportion of orthodox crooks, from the former Chief Rabbi of Israel on down, far exceeds that of Reform and Conservative Jews, and you needn't be a reader of Shmarya Rosenberg's blog to know that. Not that I have any great love for Rosenberg; who goes off the deep end, but you get the gist.

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi – yes, but cutting off the wife's head still very big. No?

  5. Sheri Knauth says:

    Yes, a good article but sad that this "journalist" needed to be like the Enquirer with a rude title. Maybe this "author" should put his foot inside a Reform congregation and learn what it means to be a spiritual and committed Reform Jew. I'd like to hear back from Mr. Yori Yanover

  6. Yori Yanover says:

    I was employed by the CCAR as designer of their prayer book. My familiarity with the Reform movement is direct and personal. But, alas, by Jewish law I am not permitted to set foot inside a Reform temple, much as I'm prohibited from entering a church. I worked over the Internet, mostly… As to being spiritual and committed — more power to you, but if you do not continue in the halachic path of our rabbis, why call yourself a rabbi? If you don't know enough Hebrew and Aramaic to learn a page of Gemorah, why pretend that you continue the rabbinic tradition? I don't begrudge anyone their Yoga classes and choir singing and even group prayer, what do I care — but don't defraud the masses by proclaiming a title that belongs to people who wouldn't enter your house if they could help it?

  7. Tany Berman says:

    even if she was " ordained " they are NOT rabbis…

  8. Sheri Knauth says:

    Yori Yanover I completely agree that there are varying degrees of commitment in all movements of Judaism. Just because this one person did not adhere to her commitments to Torah and learning, does not mean the entire movement is false. I am a Yeshiva elementary school graduate and have been a part of each movement. I can tell you from personal experience that there are those who follow Torah in each synagogue. It's the rude title that "got me". Reporting the news is one thing but … check your Torah, embarrassing an entire movement is another.

  9. Yori Yanover says:

    Sheri Knauth – I couldn't disagree more. The reform movement is a threat to normative Jews and Judaism, spreading values that are foreign to the very notion of Avodat Hashem. They reject the very idea of Halacha, authority of the sages and tradition of Psika, without which we are nothing but self-centered spiritual narcissists. You cannot be a practicing Reform Jew and be following the Torah, it's an oxymoron.

  10. James Bloyd says:

    As a conservative I walk the middle …i understand yori on the one hand…if you can't read from the to'rah scroll fluently you cannot call yourself a rabbi…that is silly….i follow reform newsletters and I definitely believe the movements commitment to Judaic values and culture..and appreciate their emphasis on kindness when interpreting law…Dan definitely makes a good point about ultra orthodox rabbis..their intellectual suppression of their congregations,mafiaesque financial scandals, and the most heinous,the epidemic pedophiliac sex scandals make them much more of an embarrassment to Judaism

  11. James Bloyd says:

    But don't think I don't love you yori…i think you are great and read you everyday..shavua tov

  12. Wow, another Jew telling Jews they aren’t Jewish enough. Or even Jews if they don’t do it his way. Thank goodness for Israel where Jews can be secular and no one argues about their identification as a Jew. Except those who literally throw stones.

  13. Allan Pogrund says:

    How little must one know to write for this rag?

  14. Anonymous says:

    The entire movement IS false, not because of their requirements for "ordination," but because of their misguided belief that the Torah was written by HUMANS and is not the word of Hashem given at Sinai to the Jewish People for all time and can't be changed, and that we made a covenant to accept it! All their "reforms" are justified by that basic error.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The so-called "Conservative" movement also does not accept that the Torah is the Word of Hashem. (I was raised Conservative.) It's the worst of both worlds, neither miclchick nor fleishick, with a skewed level of observance, which is why it's losing so many members.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Reform Jews are Jewish if their mother is Halachically Jewish, and are as valued as any other member of Klal Yisrael. The problem is that that the so-called Reform Movement has redefined who is a Jew, so in many congregations, the majority of "Jews" aren't legally Jewish! Either they have a shiksa mother, or they've undergone a Reform "conversion," which doesn't hold water. I live in a U.S. city that has one of the largest Reform congregations, and they brag that they have more non-Jews as members (even by their own loose standards) than Jews and welcome "interfaith" and "blended" families.

  17. Ben Plonie says:

    I don't believe that the proportion of Orthodox crooks exceeds that of Reform and Conservative at all. They are just more visible; the 'man bites dog' phenomenon. It is wishful thinking on your part and that of that vile pervert 'shmarya' Rosenberg, who banned me for disputing his hateful performance with facts and logic. The crime and perversion rate for Orthodox Jews is near zero, while the rate for Conservative and Reform Jews approaches that of the general population in direct proportion to their distance from Orthodoxy.

    No, don't tell me to prove it. It is obvious. YOU prove it.

  18. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi – The question is not whether or not the Torah is a scientific document, which it obviously isn't. The question is whether a movement that on principle does not follow traditional Jewish law — which the Conservative, by the way, do, in their fashion — can call its leaders rabbis.

    Can a person one day declare themselves a doctor even if they never attended medical school and have no ability to read a medical text book? Would you not call the cops on someone who's doing surgery in his den the way he or she feel it should be done, without official confirmation?

    The debate in this instance is not about the veracity of Judaism — you can hold whatever opinion you wish on that — but on whether or not someone who rejects the very letter and spirit of the laws associated for many centuries with Judaism is entitled to call the,selves a rabbi.

    I would be very happy if they called themselves social directors, community organizers, group supporters, spiritual instructors — because they really do a great job in those areas, certainly much better than many Orthodox rabbis are doing. Why must they call the,selves rabbis? Is it really for the donations and membership fees?

  19. Dan Silagi says:

    Yori Yanover Whatever religion it is that forbids you from entering a Reform (or Conservative) temple, it's not Judaism. Back in 2009, a bunch of rabbis issued a psak in Yiddish saying that if a Jew attends the inauguration of Cardinal Dolan or even watches it on TV, that Jew is hereby excommunicated. I watched it, boring as it was, then wrote a "go ahead, make my day" letter to the chief of of these rabbis telling them that yes, I watched it on TV, now excommunicate me. I'll sill waiting for correspondence from one of these fools, although I'm not holding my breath.

  20. "Reform Rabbi" is an oxymoron.

  21. Sheri Knauth , the Reform Movement embarrasses itself. Yori is just pointing out the facts.

  22. uunlisted That's exactly the problem. Then these poor non Jews fall in love with a halachic Jew, and find out that they aren't accepted anywhere outside their "movement". It's not fair to them, or their children, because they were sold a bill of goods that was fraudulent.

  23. Dan Silagi says:

    Yocheved Rotenberg I was unaware that intolerance is a Jewish value. Apparently I was misinformed.

  24. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi – You misunderstand entirely the process of halachic decision making. We don't have fatwas in Jewish tradition. A thousand rabbis may stand outside my window, each more prominent than the other, and declare that I must do something, and I'm still absolutely and completely free to act as I see fit.

    All halachic inquiries are from the bottom up. I seek the rabbi — or any teacher — I choose, who best fits my needs on many different levels, and I ask them my question. But if in my entire life I have no issue which puzzles me, if I think and feel that I know exactly what to do as per my understanding of halacha — that's what I must do.

    Now, I could be wrong in my conviction, at which point I need to atone for my error and labor to fix it. But the Torah wants me to be a strong and intuitive man, unafraid to be myself and embracing a personal and inspired relationship with God through the commandments — as I understand them.

    As to entering a reform temple — those are my standards, not anything forced on me. I sought guidance about it, embraced it and am acting on it. BTW — I don't hold the same standard regarding Conservative synagogues. I don't view them as an attempt to uproot halacha, but merely to forge halacha as the Conservative see fit. I may not love the results, but they're not the same destructive force in our nation.

  25. Dan Silagi says:

    Yori Yanover They are rabbis. In most cases Reform rabbis are better educated than Orthodox ones, and certainly Hasidim. Deal with it.

  26. Dan Silagi says:

    Yori Yanover Don't have fatwas? You just issued one yourself, when you said Reform rabbis aren't really rabbis, and that Reform Jews aren't really Jewish. Was it Hashem who forbade you from entering a Reform synagogue? If it wasn't Hashem Himself, it was a man, or a group of men (not women, they don't count) who issued that psak. Shame on them.

  27. Dan Silagi says:

    In Sholem Aleichem's stories, Tevya was portrayed as an old fool, set in his ways. He and his attitudes were satirized, none too gently. Now the play and the movie were shmaltzed up and romanticized, and Tevya was made a mostly sympathetic character. But Sholem Aleichem made him a ******, and very strongly implied Tevya deserved his fate.

  28. Jennifer Badani says:

    Okay, so there's one bad apple in the crowd of Reform Judaism. Moses Mendlesohn came out of Germany the same time that Chabad came out of the Soviet Union. Many Jewish people were assimilating. So there was different movements within Judaism to have Jewish people more involved.

  29. Lea Majer says:

    Jew is someone who was born from a Jewish mother. Period. Torah is clearly giving certain rules about how to keep, or not to keep Judaism. It’s up to each one of us to decide if we want to keep it or not. But one thing has to be clear my dear sister Sheryl, you can’t decide to be secular and saying this is also okay like this. Because it is not. Cerain things, like Shabbat, Kosher, for instance, are the basic of Judaism. And us not in our hands to decide if and how to change it.

  30. Yori Yanover says:

    Moses Mendelssohn 1729 – 1786)

    Soviet Union 1917 – 1991

    You probably meant Russia, or, more precisely, Belarus, the birthplace of Chabad.. That aside, there is no Judaism without the commandments. There are Jews without the commandments, for sure, but to qualify as a Jewish movement it must be under the rabbinical umbrella, erected some time in the first or second century CE.

    We've had movements, like the Karaites, who tried to be both Jewish and outside the rabbinical umbrella. It didn't last. Indeed, today's Reform movement includes a vast constituency of non-Jews. They become very upset when we mention this. we have a regular reader who rebukes me personally when I say it. That's OK. The bottom line is: as the years go by, there are fewer and fewer reform Jews, while the reform membership remains about the same. Why? Because any Jewish movement that ignores the commandments will eventually cease to be Jewish.

    Pass it on.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Israeli soldiers closed off the area near where a terror attack occurred  near Hevron on Passover eve, in search of the terrorists.
Netanyahu: PA Incitement Caused Pre-Passover Terror Attack
Latest News Stories
Hundreds came to the Bangkok Chabad House Passover seder this year.

More than 400 people sat down at the first seder this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

Israeli soldiers closed off the area near where a terror attack occurred  near Hevron on Passover eve, in search of the terrorists.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority incitement for the terrorist murder of a police officer on Passover eve.

The officers had signaled to the Arab driver to pull over. He then rammed into them.

The Palestinian terrorist stood by the side of the road at shot at passing cars with an AK-47.

We would like to wish all our readers a wonderful and kosher Pesach holiday.

Kerry reportedly admitted that he had “made a mistake.”

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

No, it’s not another Haredi protest against the draft, it’s burning the Chametz.

Even the Egyptians didn’t dare do this!

Once again Israel Police closed the Temple Mount to Jews and Christians on the eve of a Jewish holiday, for ‘safety’s sake.’

Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators are warning each other over what will happen if each walks away from the negotiating table.

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy sell the Chametz (food containing leavening) of the State of Israel to an Israeli-Arab Israeli, Mr. Jaber, before the upcoming Passover holiday.  

The attacker apparently targeted various Jewish centers.

(JTA) — The parents of a Jewish student at an exclusive girls’ school in London called on the head of school to make a public statement about an incident in which a teacher told their daughter that she would be sent “to one of your gas chambers.” The incident at North London Collegiate School occurred […]

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/how-little-must-one-know-to-be-fired-from-a-reform-temple/2013/11/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: