America’s Orthodox authority bans female rabbis — and that’s official
THE BATTLE over Orthodox women rabbis has intensified in the United States over the past week after the traditionalist rabbinate stepped up its opposition.
The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), which represents central Orthodox congregations in the largest diaspo- ra community, passed a resolution last weektoprohibitmembersfromordaining women into the Orthodox rabbinate “regardless of the title used”.
They should also not allow a woman teaching Jewish studies in an Orthodox institution to use a title “implying rabbinic ordination”, the RCA declared.
Its target is the new Yeshivat Maharat in New York, founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss, which has ordained Orthodox women for the past three years.
At first, its graduates used the title “maharat”, an acronym for an halachic, spiritual and Torah leader, but more recent alumni have preferred to call themselves “rabba” and one even used “rabbi”.
In a separate attack, rabbinic leaders of the strictly Orthodox Agudath Israel of America have denounced Yeshivat Maharat and other so-called “Open Orthodox” institutions linked to Rabbi Weiss.
Such institutions, the Agudath leaders said, “reject the basic tenets of our faith, particularly the authority of the Torah and its Sages. Accordingly, they are no different than other dissident movements throughout our history that have rejected these basic tenets.”
In retaliation, 1,500 women have so far signed an online petition, declaring that they “proudly stand with the learning institutions that are training women as halachic and spiritual leaders and clergy. We encourage Orthodox communities to hire such women to serve in their congregations, in schools and on campuses.”