web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘RCA’

Rabbi Michael Broyde Resigns from RCA

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Rabbi Michael Broyde, a prominent Modern Orthodox figure, resigned from the Rabbinical Council of America as a result of the scandal over his use of an online pseudonym.

Broyde’s resignation was first reported Thursday by The Jewish Channel, which also uncovered Broyde’s online activities last year.

“I deeply regret my wrongdoing and understand how disappointing it has been,” Broyde wrote in his resignation letter, which was obtained by JTA.

Broyde declined to comment to JTA.

The Jewish Channel’s April 2013 report on Broyde’s online activities revealed that he had posted online using the pseudonym “Rabbi Herschel Goldwasser” for years. The alter-ego commented favorably on Broyde’s scholarly works. The Jewish Channel also found that Broyde had used the pseudonym to gain access to the members-only online communications of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, an RCA rival.

Following The Jewish Channel’s report, Broyde admitted to the use of the “Goldwasser” pseudonym and his infiltration of the rabbinic fellowship’s online communications.

In a follow-up report, The Jewish Channel reported on the existence of a second mysterious identity. A letter was sent to an academic journal under this second name that praised Broyde’s work. Broyde later cited this letter in support of his own academic work. Broyde, however, has denied being behind the second identity.

Following The Jewish Channel’s investigations, Broyde had been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the RCA. The RCA created an inquiry board to look into the issue.

In his resignation letter, Broyde thanked the RCA for waiting to initiate its investigation into the matter until Emory University, where Broyde works as a law professor, had completed its own, separate investigation into the matter. “Emory reported that there is no evidence to support the allegations that I had denied, and the only allegations that are supported are the ones that I promptly admitted,” Broyde wrote in his resignation letter.

Broyde remains on an indefinite leave of absence from his role as a judge for the Beth Din of America, Rabbi Shlomo Weissman, the Beth Din’s director, told JTA.

Sharansky Supporting Rabbi Avi Weiss vs. Rabbinate, RCA

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky has released the following statement regarding the debate surrounding Rabbi Avi Weiss:

“Rabbi Avi Weiss is a prominent leader of the Modern Orthodox Jewish world. By his teachings and his personal example, he has inspired and raised generations of Jews in the spirit of kol yisra’el arevim zeh la-zeh (the principle that all Jews are responsible for one another) and with a deep commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

“Rabbi Weiss’s commitment and integrity are beyond reproach, which is why I find the ongoing discussion about his Rabbinic credentials absurd.

“As Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency, I would like to state clearly that our shlichim (emissaries) will continue to honor Rabbi Weiss’s certifications and recommendations, as we have been proud to do up until now.”

Rabbi Weiss complained recently that the Israeli Chief rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) were in cahoots to disqualify “Liberal Orthodox” rabbis by the Rabbinate refusing to honor their recommendation of their congregants as proper Jews.

As we wrote here earlier, this created a situation in which the largely anti-Zionist Rabbinate, comprised of wall-to-wall Haredim, was collaborating with the RCA, catering mostly to Orthodox Jews who are comfortable staying in New Jersey – to block Zionist Orthodox American Jews from making aliyah.

Hopefully, this madness will be corrected now, possibly with some additional help from Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett, who dropped the ball this year on electing a National Religious Chief Rabbi.

Only Bennett Can Solve the Avi Weiss Conundrum – He Caused It

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

The failure of Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett to enforce the election of Rabbi David Stav as Chief Rabbi is now coming to haunt Modern Orthodoxy both here and in America, on the very issue that’s most crucial to us: promoting immigration of Zionist, Orthodox American Jews to Israel.

Having a Haredi administration run our Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which almost never really caters to the Haredim and constitutes a kind of colonialist rule of the black hats over the knitted yarmulkes, is annoying most times of the year. But now, as it turns out, it is actually suppressing the aliyah of the very American Jews this country is hungry for: Modern Orthodox folks, with professions and values and money and religious sanity.

Dozens of American Modern Orthodox rabbis have been complaining that the rabbinate in Israel has been refusing to accept their letters of recommendation regarding members of their congregation preparing to make aliyah. This is because the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), mainstream Orthodox, has been telling the Israeli Rabbinate that the Modern Orthodox rabbis are the same as Conservative and Reform. So the Rabbinate, inherently suspicious of anyone in a colorful jacket, is no longer paying attention to the likes of Rabbi Avi Weiss.

“In recent days, I have been informed that letters I’ve written attesting to the Jewishness and personal status of congregants have been rejected by the office of the Chief Rabbinate,” Rabbi Weiss wrote recently. “I’m not the only Orthodox rabbi to have his letters rejected – there are others.”

Weiss reports that “the Chief Rabbinate have denied letters from me or other rabbis without input from select rabbis here in America who, I believe, are whispering into the Chief Rabbinate’s ears. For me, they’ll whisper one thing, for another they will find some other reason to cast aspersions.”

And so, the most vital aspect of Zionist Judaism – living in Zion – is now being handled by the RCA, which caters to Orthodox Jews who live comfortably in New Jersey and don’t dream of going anywhere else soon, except to visit, and the Haredi Rabbinate which has no influence at all on anti-Zionist Haredi Americans who do make aliyah.

Modern Orthodox Jews, Zionist Jews, pro-settlement Jews, have always suffered from an inability to communicate our case to the masses. Somehow, we always end up being defined by others, and those “others” more often than not don’t like us and are deeply ignorant of what we’re actually about.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, one of the most courageous and at the same time sweetest people I know, finds himself, after years of dedicating his life to Jews and to Judaism, being put in a kind of boycott by people who have done less than him and, in general, aren’t worthy of carrying his umbrella for him, if he had one.

Joel Brand, who risked his life to try and save Hungarian Jews from the Nazis only to become the victim of a despicable scandal, once said that there are three types of outcomes to every war: there are those who die in battle and they come home to great fanfare; then there are those who come back alive, and they’re most likely to face a court martial; and, finally, there are those who didn’t fight at all, and they’re most likely to be the judges in said court martial.

The largely anti-Zionist Rabbinate, in cahoots with the largely disinterested in aliyah RCA, are collaborating to keep the congregants of actively pro-Zionist shuls from immigrating to Israel, by treating shomer Shabbat Modern Orthodox rabbis as Reform.

Rabbi Avi Weiss has been a pioneer in using halachic tools to meet the challenges of the negative forces in the Jewish body politic, namely the Reform movement, and, to a lesser extent, the Conservative. I heard of him originally when he was busy chaining himself to various fences, protesting abuses against Soviet Jury, followed by rallies against the abuse of Israeli settlers by their own government.

The Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union “Disappointed” by UN Vote

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

On Friday, Nov 30, the RCA and the OU issued the following statement, criticizing the statement made by Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, and expressing disappointment in the vote that raised the status of the Arab Palestinians to that of nonmember observer state.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Orthodox Union voice their disappointment in passage of the resolution by the United Nations General Assembly upgrading the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state.

The RCA and OU view this unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority as damaging to the peace process and a violation of the Oslo Accords. They believe that a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians can only come through direct negotiations.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, and Dr. Simcha Katz, president of the Orthodox Union, stated:

“Today, at the United Nations, the global community placed peace in the Mideast further out of reach.  Today, the world saw the Palestinians’ president deliver a speech that was filled with hatred and venom against Israel; a man who truly wants peace does not speak this way.    Today, supporters of Israel are grateful to President Obama and his administration, as well as to the Congress of the United States, for their strong efforts to prevent the passage of this resolution, and we thank the other nations who stood with Israel today at the UN.”

 CORRECTION: THE HEADLINE OF THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CHANGED – THE RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA EXPRESSED ITS DISAPPOINTMENT OVER THE UN VOTE TO UPGRADE THE STATUS OF THE PA, NOT THE RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY.

An Affront To Rabbinic Autonomy

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Many years ago when I was helping my congregation write a new constitution, I submitted a first draft to an expert who had been involved in setting up new shuls.

One paragraph read, “All matters of halacha (Jewish law) will be determined by the congregational rabbi.” Pretty straightforward, I thought.

“Not good enough,” said the expert. “What will you do when the board of the shul decides that a particular matter is not a halachic issue and tries to force your hand?”

So we added the phrase “…including the determination of what constitutes a matter of halacha.”

The role of the rabbi is to serve as a teacher and posek for his congregation. He sets the halachic tone; his congregation is supposed to follow it. His word, as the rabbi of his congregation, is the final one. Opinions of outside rabbis should be irrelevant, unless the congregational rabbi seeks their advice.

It has now become popular to seek to undermine this concept.

The call has now come, from various fronts, to insist that rabbis may not officiate at weddings without a prenuptial agreement (PNA). One organization has already established this policy, and Rabbi Michael Broyde, a member of the RCA’s Beth Din of America, has joined the call. Under the proposal, rabbis who choose not to utilize PNAs could face expulsion from their rabbinical organization.

Let me be clear. My purpose here is not to argue against the use of prenuptial agreements. Greater and more learned rabbis than I strongly advocate their use. However, there are also greater and more learned rabbis than I who oppose their use.

I do not use a prenuptial agreement, but I do not stand in the way of a couple arranging it through someone else. No, I am not insensitive to the plight of agunahs. Rather, I am following the guidance of my teacher, who objects to its use.

This call for organizational pressure is an affront to rabbinic autonomy.

I can’t speak about other organizations but I can tell you as a member of the Rabbinical Council of America that I feel it would be a mistake for our organization to follow this path.

When members of the RCA have taken public positions that were, if you’ll pardon the expression, unorthodox, the organization has, for the most part, not pressured them to relent. RCA members have written radical views on leftist blogs, pushing the envelope of halachic and hashkafic propriety, much to the silent acquiescence of our organization.

(For years, RCA members served congregations with mixed seating and microphones, though thankfully that is much less common today.)

On all of these issues, and more, I don’t hear calls for expulsion of the “perpetrators.” The argument I have often heard is that the RCA should not be dictating to individual rabbis as to how they should conduct their individual pulpits. Our organization is a “wide tent” with room for many opinions within the spectrum of (supposed) Orthodoxy.

Yet while the RCA tent is wide enough for those who advocate far left positions, a rabbi who, for halachic or other reasons, chooses not to do a PNA risks finding himself on the outside of that tent looking in.

Consider the RCA’s monumental GPS (Geirus Policies and Standards), which has standardized Orthodox conversion to a level acceptable to the Israeli rabbinate. This was a major accomplishment by the RCA. It has brought standards to an American rabbinate that sorely needed them. Yet the RCA doesn’t force its members to follow those standards. I know of RCA rabbis who perform conversions that do not conform to GPS. Should we expel those rabbis from the RCA? (Now that’s a policy I could see myself supporting.)

The cause of those who wish to encourage fellow rabbis to use prenups would be better served by engaging those rabbis in learned debate as to their advantages and disadvantages. But the suggestion that we engage in strong-arm tactics to force members to do it our way would demean our organization and the rabbinate.

However, that is not what bothers me the most about this discussion.

To further buttress this policy, members of shuls are being asked to press their rabbis to stop doing weddings without prenups and to mandate that no such weddings take place on the synagogue grounds.

OU and RCA Call for Prayer and Words of Inspiration in Synagogues this Shabbat

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Events of the past days and weeks have demonstrated clearly that the Jewish people are in an “ait tzarah,” a time of formidable challenge, according to a statement by the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America.

The statement continues, “Our brothers and sisters in the southern communities of the State of Israel have experienced rocket barrages and the current ‘truce’ is a tenuous one.

The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran looms greater with each passing day.

Those of us who live in the Diaspora face mounting anti-Semitic hostility, which in France has culminated in the horrific murders of recent days.

The OU and the RCA are therefore urging our member synagogues and member rabbis to respond over the coming weekend with programs of tefilla and divrei hitorerut, prayer and words of inspiration, in a manner appropriate to the severity of the situation.

We all fervently pray that the month of Nissan, which we are about to usher in this Shabbat, should indeed prove to be a month of ‘yeshuot bo makifot,’ a month in which our people will witness a comprehensive salvation.”

RCA Parley To Address Women’s Leadership Roles

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

With a high-profile discussion scheduled on women’s leadership and two proposed rules aimed at marginalizing rabbis who deviate leftward on hot-button issues, an upcoming Orthodox rabbinical conference is expected to draw its largest crowd in years.

The Rabbinical Council of America’s three-day conference set to begin Sunday in Scarsdale, N.Y., comes just months after the near ordination of a female rabbi by one of the RCA’s highest-profile members drew a sharp rebuke from the haredi Orthodox leadership of Agudath Israel of America.

“I think it will be one of the more exciting RCA conventions,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the council’s first vice president, seeking to put a positive spin on what also could prove to be a highly divisive gathering of mostly Modern Orthodox rabbis.

Two amendments to the RCA convention that have been put forward are clear reactions to the controversy sparked by Rabbi Avi Weiss’s decision in January to confer the title “rabba” – a feminized version of rabbi – on Sara Hurwitz, a member of the clerical staff of his New York synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

Following the Agudah condemnation and discussions with RCA officials, Rabbi Weiss stated that he did not intend to confer the rabba title on anyone else, saying Orthodox unity was of more pressing importance.

One amendment effectively would expel from the council any member who “attempts to ordain as a member of the rabbinate, or to denominate as ‘rabbinical’ or as ‘clergy,’ a person not eligible to serve as such as those terms are understood under the policies and positions of the RCA.”

A second amendment would bar from officer positions anyone who is a member of another national rabbinic group “whose principles or tenets of faith are antithetical or contrary to the policies and positions of the RCA.”

Rabbi Weiss is one of the founders of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a liberal Orthodox group founded, in part, to serve as an umbrella for graduates of his rabbinical school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Graduates of the school have been unable to secure automatic membership in the RCA, which has never taken a public position on the fellowship.

RCA insiders say adoption of the measures, neither of which would be retroactive, is unlikely. But their existence still points to a tug within the organization between those seeking to maintain the council as a broadly inclusive group and those who want to draw firmer lines.

“The RCA leadership has always been centrist,” said one RCA official involved in planning for the conference. “The rank-and-file rabbis, those on the front lines, can’t afford to be radicals on either end. But it’s getting harder and harder to promote an RCA which is led by the center, but which includes the whole range.”

Following the Weiss controversy, the RCA announced that women’s leadership would be placed on the conference agenda. A committee is now in the late stages of crafting a policy on the issue.

The policy, which will have to be ratified by the membership, would express general support for women’s scholarship and their assumption of appropriate leadership roles while drawing the line at ordaining them as rabbis. But lately there has been resistance from those seeking stronger language marking certain functions as forbidden.

“The committee expects for there to be pushback and perhaps alternate language from both the right and the left,” said the RCA official.

Whether any formulation could quell the controversy is unclear. Weiss has never backed down from his view that Hurwitz is a member of the synagogue’s rabbinic staff, though he says the school he is launching to train women will bestow a title other than rabba.

Moreover, several women now serve important Modern Orthodox congregations in various capacities – some of which clearly overlap with traditional rabbinic functions.

The results of a survey to be presented at the convention show a clear consensus among RCA members against granting semicha, or ordination, to women, according to an official involved in the council’s strategic planning process. On other issues, the official said, there is no “strong consensus.”

The policy that the council is to enact on women’s leadership will likely remain vague on specifics as a result. Its drafters say that a policy of calculated ambiguity is necessary in part to maintain unity across a broad range of opinion.

“I believe that we can have clarity on the red lines and have a degree of inclusiveness in the areas that are not as clear,” Rabbi Goldin said. “We as an organization have to provide latitude for members within the organization to be able to follow their conscience in areas that are not black and white.”

But it is precisely that approach that has encountered some turbulence and which is leading some to push the organization toward a firmer line.

“I think there’s a need for clarity,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, an RCA regional vice president who said he supports the amendments in principle. “What we don’t want to offer the public is a blurring of the lines, that the RCA is all things to all people.” (JTA)

RCA Parley To Address Women’s Leadership Roles

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


With a high-profile discussion scheduled on women’s leadership and two proposed rules aimed at marginalizing rabbis who deviate leftward on hot-button issues, an upcoming Orthodox rabbinical conference is expected to draw its largest crowd in years.


The Rabbinical Council of America’s three-day conference set to begin Sunday in Scarsdale, N.Y., comes just months after the near ordination of a female rabbi by one of the RCA’s highest-profile members drew a sharp rebuke from the haredi Orthodox leadership of Agudath Israel of America.


“I think it will be one of the more exciting RCA conventions,” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the council’s first vice president, seeking to put a positive spin on what also could prove to be a highly divisive gathering of mostly Modern Orthodox rabbis.


Two amendments to the RCA convention that have been put forward are clear reactions to the controversy sparked by Rabbi Avi Weiss’s decision in January to confer the title “rabba” – a feminized version of rabbi – on Sara Hurwitz, a member of the clerical staff of his New York synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


Following the Agudah condemnation and discussions with RCA officials, Rabbi Weiss stated that he did not intend to confer the rabba title on anyone else, saying Orthodox unity was of more pressing importance.


One amendment effectively would expel from the council any member who “attempts to ordain as a member of the rabbinate, or to denominate as ‘rabbinical’ or as ‘clergy,’ a person not eligible to serve as such as those terms are understood under the policies and positions of the RCA.”


A second amendment would bar from officer positions anyone who is a member of another national rabbinic group “whose principles or tenets of faith are antithetical or contrary to the policies and positions of the RCA.”


Rabbi Weiss is one of the founders of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a liberal Orthodox group founded, in part, to serve as an umbrella for graduates of his rabbinical school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Graduates of the school have been unable to secure automatic membership in the RCA, which has never taken a public position on the fellowship.


RCA insiders say adoption of the measures, neither of which would be retroactive, is unlikely. But their existence still points to a tug within the organization between those seeking to maintain the council as a broadly inclusive group and those who want to draw firmer lines.


“The RCA leadership has always been centrist,” said one RCA official involved in planning for the conference. “The rank-and-file rabbis, those on the front lines, can’t afford to be radicals on either end. But it’s getting harder and harder to promote an RCA which is led by the center, but which includes the whole range.”


Following the Weiss controversy, the RCA announced that women’s leadership would be placed on the conference agenda. A committee is now in the late stages of crafting a policy on the issue.


The policy, which will have to be ratified by the membership, would express general support for women’s scholarship and their assumption of appropriate leadership roles while drawing the line at ordaining them as rabbis. But lately there has been resistance from those seeking stronger language marking certain functions as forbidden.


“The committee expects for there to be pushback and perhaps alternate language from both the right and the left,” said the RCA official.


Whether any formulation could quell the controversy is unclear. Weiss has never backed down from his view that Hurwitz is a member of the synagogue’s rabbinic staff, though he says the school he is launching to train women will bestow a title other than rabba.


Moreover, several women now serve important Modern Orthodox congregations in various capacities – some of which clearly overlap with traditional rabbinic functions.


The results of a survey to be presented at the convention show a clear consensus among RCA members against granting semicha, or ordination, to women, according to an official involved in the council’s strategic planning process. On other issues, the official said, there is no “strong consensus.”


The policy that the council is to enact on women’s leadership will likely remain vague on specifics as a result. Its drafters say that a policy of calculated ambiguity is necessary in part to maintain unity across a broad range of opinion.


“I believe that we can have clarity on the red lines and have a degree of inclusiveness in the areas that are not as clear,” Rabbi Goldin said. “We as an organization have to provide latitude for members within the organization to be able to follow their conscience in areas that are not black and white.”


But it is precisely that approach that has encountered some turbulence and which is leading some to push the organization toward a firmer line.


“I think there’s a need for clarity,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, an RCA regional vice president who said he supports the amendments in principle. “What we don’t want to offer the public is a blurring of the lines, that the RCA is all things to all people.” (JTA)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rca-parley-to-address-womens-leadership-roles-2/2010/04/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: