Amer­ica’s Ortho­dox author­ity bans fe­male rab­bis — and that’s of­fi­cial

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

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.”

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