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Yeshiva U Threatens to Deny Ordination Over ‘Partnership Minyan’

Increased knowledge of women of Jewish laws and the Torah has created thorny issues for the Orthodox community.
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A woman wears tefillin, traditionally donned only by men although the Talmud recites one instance of a rabbi's wife using them.

A woman wears tefillin, traditionally donned only by men although the Talmud recites one instance of a rabbi's wife using them.
Photo Credit: My Jewish Learning website

The rabbinical school of Yeshiva University is withholding the ordination of a student who held a partnership minyan for his wife in their home.

Rabbi Menachem Penner, acting dean of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, or RIETS, sent a letter to the student ordering him not to participate in partnership minyans “nor create a public impression that he supports such activities in normative practice,” The New York Jewish Week reported Thursday.

The student, who is identified as Shalom in the letter dated Jan. 13, has chosen to remain anonymous.

The letter indicates that the student will not be a “musmach,” or graduate, of the seminary unless he is able to subscribe to the principles laid out therein, including to “defer, in matters of normative practice, to the opinions of recognized poskim,” or decisors of Jewish law.

In a partnership minyan, women lead many aspects of the Sabbath service and are called to the Torah but maintain Jewish law, such as a maintaining a separation between men and women but still allowing women to lead prayers or be called to the Torah aws well as read from it.

Most halachic sources prohibit the practice of partnership minyans, including Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at RIETS.

The student told The Jewish Week that he is in discussions with seminary officials in an effort to resolve the standoff. The Chag HaSemikhah Convocation, during which the Yeshiva University rabbinical students receive their ordination, is set for March 23.

The student told the newspaper that he is unwelcome in his community’s Orthodox synagogue and has since held other services in his home.

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7 Responses to “Yeshiva U Threatens to Deny Ordination Over ‘Partnership Minyan’”

  1. What does the article mean when it says that in partnership minyanim the participants "maintain Jewish law" while they engage in practices that most halachic sources prohibit?

  2. It still looks weird to see a woman wearing Teffilin.

  3. Suzy Baim says:

    we should concentrate on our own beautiful mitzvos. It’s like doing someone else’s homework when we should do our own.

  4. The synagogue is not the main thing but only a portion. There is so many other things in Judaism. For example, lets take the many things we do on Shabbos. Yes we Jews pray at shul and read the Torah. We also light Shabbos candles at home on Friday, and later have a nice meal with others. In the morning, each of us, men and women pray the Shabbos prayers. And then lunch at home with others where we can each share a D'var Torah message. It's more than shul.

    There's the great mitzvah of chesed, helping others in the community. We can be an amazing leader in that. There's family purity and mikvah which brings blessing to the home. – Rabbi Schneerson said that it's like heart and the brain, they have different functions but they are both very important to the body. So too, we have different functions, but we are all important. Lets focus on the mitzvos Hashem wants from us

  5. Feminist Jewish women are sadly misguided and chip away at the kavod of Judaism, of Torah, and of us as women! Just be a Jewish woman and stop trying to be a Jewish man! Why lower yourself? (I am a "recovering feminist" Jewish woman.)

  6. Yes, YU, please deny ordination to people who want to be rabbis, but don't wish to uphold Halacha. That's the proper thing to do. (p.s. That's the problem with "modern" Orthodoxy.)

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