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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘RCA’

RCA Issues Statement Regarding Freundel Matter

Monday, October 20th, 2014

New York, October 20, 2014 – The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) today said that since the arrest last week of Rabbi Barry Freundel of Washington, DC, it has been working assiduously to address the many challenges that its members and their communities now face.

Rabbi Leonard Matanky, President, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, said, “First and foremost, our hearts continue to go out to the individuals who were converted to Judaism by Rabbi Freundel whose trust was violated and who have worried about their personal status. We pray for the welfare of all victims, including the many women who used the Kesher Israel mikvah for taharat hamishpacha (family purity) purposes, and for the continued strength and healing of the Kesher Israel community, which is a vibrant center of our sacred Torah and that is suffering greatly at this time. We also feel for the Freundel family and offer them our support during this difficult personal time.”

Today the RCA is able to announce that the Beth Din of America – under the leadership of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz – has concluded as a matter of Jewish law that conversions performed by Rabbi Freundel prior to his arrest on October 14, 2014 remain halachically valid and prior converts remain Jewish in all respects. This ruling follows a review of the charges contained in the court documents that have been released to date (including the criminal complaint, search and arrest warrants, and accompanying affidavits) and applicable Jewish law with respect to the status of prior conversions.

In an effort to create an avenue for greater comfort and accountability in the conversion process following this most unfortunate episode, the RCA also announced two additional actions:

• The RCA and the Beth Din of America have agreed that every Beit Din assembled under their Geirus Protocol and Standards (GPS) will appoint a woman (or group of women) to serve as ombudsman to receive any concerns of female candidates to conversion. The name of this person will be provided to all conversion candidates at the beginning of the conversion process.Prospective converts will be assured that their standing in the conversion process will not be compromised by communicating with the ombudsman, and that any such communications will remain confidential to the extent possible.

• This week, the RCA will appoint a commission composed of rabbis, lay leaders and mental health professionals (including men and women) to review the current GPS conversion process and suggest safeguards against possible abuses. This commission will report its findings to the RCA Executive Committee by January 31, 2015. As the RCA continues to address this very serious case of rabbinic abuse, it has made available a summary outlining its responses to prior accusations of rabbinic misbehavior by Barry Freundel. This document is available on the RCA website at www.rabbis.org.

Rabbi Freundel has been suspended from membership in the RCA and its Executive Committee, and together with the Beth Din of America from all activities related to conversion.

Rabbis, Jewish Gun Club Oppose RCA and OU’s ‘Arbitrary’ Gun Control Support

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

A dozen rabbis from across the United States have joined together with the Golani Rifle & Pistol Club in opposing calls for greater gun control issued by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Orthodox Union (OU).

On August 13, the RCA issued a press release, “2014 Resolution: Gun Violence in America,” promoting arbitrary gun control measures. The RCA’s resolution endorsed the OU’s similar press release, “OU Supports Federal Legislation to Prevent Gun Violence.”

Rejecting the position of the RCA and OU, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Rabbi David Bendory, and ten other rabbis, together with the members of the Golani Club, a Jewish shooting organization based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, are affirming the importance of armed self-defense by Jews and all Americans.

“The RCA’s statement, like that of the OU, is rife with platitudes, ignores basic facts, and fails to recognize Judaism’s strong support for the value and practice of armed self- defense,” the joint statement reads.

“The RCA and OU should promote legislation that offers law-abiding citizens full protection of their right to self-defense, both inside and outside the home, especially in the most restrictive states, which contain large Jewish population centers. All Jews, like all Americans, should be able to exercise, in a sober and prudent manner, their fundamental right and halachic obligation to defend themselves, their families, and communities, whenever the need arises.”

The rabbis assert many statistical and factual points, such as the many regulations already in existence, especially the “exceptionally stringent regulations in the New York tri-state area.” They point out that access to firearms by violent criminals is already illegal and access by the mentally ill is already restricted.

Furthermore, the rabbis charge, adding to the burdens on the law-abiding will only render them more helpless if they are assaulted – especially in places (such as synagogues) which are likely targets of nefarious people who disobey the law and commit their crimes while heavily armed. The approach taken by the RCA and OU leave their Jewish constituents virtually defenseless in the face of deadly threats.

The critics of the statements made by Jewish denominational groups make many additional points:

The RCA and OU have ignored many key facts, among which are the following: 1) Violent crime, including crime involving guns, has been declining steadily over the last two decades, at the same time as the majority of states have been lifting restrictions on the right to self-defense; 2) Spree shootings in schools or elsewhere are very rare events, representing a tiny fraction of annual homicides; 3) Such shootings have most often occurred in locations that have been declared officially “gun free,” giving notice to criminals that they will be able to commit their crimes without immediate challenge; 4) The vast majority of gun homicides are committed by a relatively small population of hardened, recidivist criminals who are not deterred by laws restricting gun purchases; 5) The rates of violent crime tend to be higher in areas with the most restrictive gun laws.

The RCA and OU fail to recognize that ordinary citizens use guns to protect themselves and others every single day. Across the country, mothers, fathers, and even children successfully protect their families against home invaders and carjackers. Women protect themselves against rapists. Business owners and store clerks protect themselves against armed robbers. Whether by brandishing a gun, pointing it, or shooting it, gun owners are able to fend off criminals and, often, to hold them until police arrive, saving not only their own lives but the lives of future victims. While many of these incidents go unreported (and somehow none of them ever seem to make the pages of the New York Times), they happen nonetheless. For a small selection of relevant news stories, the RCA and OU might consult the Guns Save Lives blog. For further relevant facts and analysis, they might examine the “Facts about Guns” section of The Truth About Guns blog.

Peaceful gun ownership promotes equality. The statements by the RCA and OU do not consider the inevitable and unequal consequences of disarmament. Guns are “equalizers.” They empower citizens of any size or capability to withstand attack from vicious criminals.

To deny this tool to peaceful citizens is to put them at the mercy of those who are stronger or more numerous. And those who are physically weakest will be most vulnerable. We prefer to read stories about grandmothers who made burglars turn tail and flee, teenagers who drove off home invaders, and wheelchair-bound men who stopped robbers, rather than obituaries about their unjust demise.

Jewish history supports self-defense. It is remarkable that the RCA and OU have ignored the long Jewish history of persecution.

The Jewish people have been murdered and persecuted in nearly every era and place on the globe. From the Crusades to the Chmielnicki massacres to the Holocaust, we have lost millions of lives to those who took advantage of our inability to defend ourselves. Even now – in this season, this week, indeed, this very day – we are being attacked in Europe and in Israel by enemies who without shame call in public for our deaths.

Nor are we completely safe in the U.S., where terrorists have conspired against synagogues and criminals have attacked Jews on the street.

Trainers at Golani Rifle and Pistol Club, ​E.B. Dvir and First Sergeant S. from the IDF's specialized Golani, Egoz commando unit.

Trainers at Golani Rifle and Pistol Club, ​E.B. Dvir and First Sergeant S. from the IDF’s specialized Golani, Egoz commando unit.

It should be clear that the threats against Jews in the U.S. and abroad are serious and increasing. It should be just as clear to the RCA and OU that further limiting our ability to defend ourselves at such a time is the very last thing Jewish leaders should be demanding.

Self-defense does not equal vigilantism. It is important to note in passing that, contrary to what is commonly alleged, possessing the tools and obtaining the training to defend oneself does not turn one into a vigilante. Many thousands of Jews are already gun owners, and yet they have not engaged in any rash of crimes. Jews as a people understand all too well how precious life is and how important it is to preserve it. However, we cannot and must not ignore the maxim of Chazal: “Haba lehargecha hashkem lehargo.” (“If one comes to kill you, kill him first.”)

We have a duty of self-defense under Jewish Law. Our mitzvot oblige us to preserve and defend Jewish lives. This obligation is all the more important while we are in Exile and therefore at greater risk. Rendering Jews less capable of self-defense and more dependent upon others runs counter to our halachic duty, endangers all Jewry and emboldens our enemies. (Furthermore, others are more likely to help defend us if we show that we are willing to defend ourselves.)

The Torah praises self-defense. The Torah recognizes armed self-defense as a requirement for a free people. As Exodus 13:18 states: “The children of Israel went up out of Egypt armed.” The Israelites were no longer slaves; they were armed. Indeed, from its early chapters, the Torah teaches that readiness for armed conflict is a moral duty and necessary for Jewish survival. When Lot was kidnapped, Avraham led 318 armed men to battle in order to save him. The Torah does not say that the men had to train for battle; they were already trained. Jewry today should likewise engage in training and stand ready to defend themselves.

The Tanach praises self-defense. The Tanach is replete with accounts of the heroic wars of Israel, from Joshua to Gideon, from David to Josiah. As in the instance of Avraham above, the Jews were able to fight because they were armed and trained. None of these leaders would have been able to go into battle if the Jews had not already readied themselves.

Channukah celebrates self-defense. Every year on Channukah, Jews celebrate and praise the Maccabees for their armed defense of the Torah and Jewish life. Should Jews today not emulate the Maccabees’ bravery and skill? 

NY NCSY, Partners, Launch ‘Virtual Vigil’ of Torah Study, Prayer for Kidnapped Teens

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Jews across Israel and the world are consumed with worry and fear for the lives of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frenkel, the three boys kidnapped by terrorists in Gush Etzion last week. Since then, the Israel Defense Forces and intelligence establishment has left no stone unturned in their efforts to locate the teens and, with God’s help, return them to their parents unharmed.

But the staff and teens of New York NCSY, based in the Five Towns, felt they needed to do more.

They understood that since its inception, the Jewish nation, when faced with crisis, has grabbed hold of “the tools of their ancestors,” and appealed to God through Torah, tefillah (prayer), and ma’asim tovim (good deeds).

To that end, New York NCSY spearheaded an effort to bring together NCSY regions throughout the country, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Engagement and Synagogue Services, and in partnership with Bnei Akiva and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), to launch a “Virtual Vigil” – an around-the-clock schedule of learning, prayer, and mitzvot, performed by teens and adults from around the world.

Within 24 hours of launching, over 650 people from around the world had signed up to give their time in creating this Virtual Vigil of Kedusha on behalf of these precious teens.

It is the hope of all involved that through these earnest efforts in the merit of Gilad Michoel ben Bat Galim, Ya’akov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah and Eyal ben Iris Teshura, Hashem will see fit to bring them home safely and quickly.

Individuals interested in participating can go to http://ncsy.org/bring-back-boys/ and fill out a simple form to select a day and a 30-minute slot, and identify which activity they are committing to for that time. You can also view a calendar of taken and available times at http://ncsy.org/bring-back-boys/calendar-times/.

While it is our deepest desire that this campaign will become unnecessary even as it is launched, it is also our intent to continue this project non-stop until our boys are brought home.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/the-rabbinical-assembly-and-the-orthodox-union-disappointed-by-un-vote/2012/12/02/

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