Tag Archives: Modern Orthodox

Ep. 119 Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy

Dedicated to the memory of Mr. Ed Goldsmith

If there is a fallacy of ‘Open Orthodoxy,’ it is not that it isn’t ‘Orthodox,’
but that in reality it isn’t very ‘Open.’

In this important installment of the Halakhic Process series, Rabbi Yuter deconstructs the halakhic methodology of Rabbi Avi Weiss and his Open Orthodox approach to Jewish law.

Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy Sources (PDF)

Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy

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Ep. 63 Current Jewish Questions 10 – Solutions to the Agunah Problem

In this mega-podcast, Rabbi Yuter surveys some of contemporary solutions to the Agunah problem and discusses their merits, limitations, and flaws in light of Jewish law, history, and social politics.

Current Jewish Questions 10 – Solutions to the Agunah Problem Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions 10 – Solutions to the Agunah Problem

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The Myths and Realities of “The Shidduch Crisis”

There are few topics in Jewish society which can simultaneously evoke rage, empathy, and unsolicited opinions and advice as Jewish dating. To take just one example, my statistical analysis of dating prospects drew approval from other frustrated singles, criticism for contradicting the positive experiences of others, and suggestions as to other sites to try and even a few specific set-up offers. Aside from the blog posts here and elsewhere, there are numerous books on the world of Jewish dating including “Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures,” which ironically can be added to your wedding registry.

To be sure, I’ve done my share of personal reflections as a single – after all it’s great blog fodder. Longtime loyal readers may recall such classics as The Harm in Being Nice, Waiting on a Friend, The Mind of a Matchmaker , and Top 10 Dating Questions – all of which for the most part still holds up today. And I’ve been guilty of offering my own Guide to Jewish Dating and another one specifically for online dating sites. But fast forward several years, countless women, forgettable dates, even more encouragement, criticism, and unsolicited advice, I am still single. However in the past few years serving as a Rabbi I’ve also gained a much better perspective. While my community attracts young Jews, it is by no means a “scene” which means there is significantly less communal pressure for single’s to get married. Furthermore, I have personally adopted a “no dating congregants” policy, meaning my religious communal experience of synagogue attendance is uncharacteristically devoid of any pretense of trying to impress women.

Thus I write from the relatively unique perspective of being a single rabbi – aware of the struggles of others while experiencing the same challenges first hand. Consider it unintentional participant observation if you will. And with this dual perspective I have come to the following conclusion: the so-called “shidduch crisis” is a collection of myths which only exacerbate the social pressures and anxieties at the core of the Jewish single’s community, specifically the denial of individuation.
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Why Orthodox Jews Should Not Oppose Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

On May 23 2011 several prominent Orthodox Jewish organizations issued a joint statement declaring their opposition to legalizing same sex-marriage. The brief statement is as follows:

On the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Orthodox Jewish world speaks with one voice, loud and clear:

We oppose the redefinition of the bedrock relationship of the human family.

The Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. While we do not seek to impose our religious principles on others, we believe the institution of marriage is central to the formation of a healthy society and the raising of children. It is our sincere conviction that discarding the historical definition of marriage would be detrimental to society.

Moreover, we are deeply concerned that, should any such redefinition occur, members of traditional communities like ours will incur moral opprobrium and may risk legal sanction if they refuse to transgress their beliefs. That prospect is chilling, and should be unacceptable to all people of good will on both sides of this debate.

The integrity of marriage in its traditional form must be preserved.

This statement was issued not only by Orthodox institutions considered “right-of center” such as Agudath Israel of America or National Council of Young Israel, but also by more moderate Orthodox organizations such as the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).1 Unlike most religious proclamations which are directed towards specific religious communities, this joint statement advocates a political position – though based on religious principles – to the secular world beyond the normal scope of religious influence. To be sure, this joint statement is hardly the first time rabbinic organizations have issued political statements. Across all major denominations, the Orthodox RCA, Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, and Reform Central Conference of American Rabbis have all passed resolutions advocating public polices exemplifying their respective religious beliefs, with few (if any) complaining about the separation of church and state.

But due to the inherent subjective moral arguments against same-sex marriage, I argue that Jews – especially the Orthodox – would be better served in not opposing its legalization.
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Why I Voted “No”: An Essay on Rabbinic Leadership

The opinions expressed here are my own and are not intended to reflect those of any individual or organization.

Introduction

This past week the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), voted on whether or not women ought to be admitted to the organization. This was not the first time the IRF considered such a proposition. In 2008, before the advent of “Maharat” or “Rabba“, the IRF recognized that women have been functioning as religious leaders within Orthodox Judaism. In Israel women serve as “To’anot Beit Din” – advocates for women in religious courts and “Yoatzot Halakha” – halakhic consultants regarding family purity. Even without formal titles women serve as Torah educators alongside men and several synagogues employ women in some religious capacity. In fact the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC), under Orthodox Union (OU), sends married couples to college campuses across the country with the expectation that the wife serves the campus Jewish community alongside her rabbinic husband. Regardless of the semantics of titles – or lack thereof – Jewish women assume professional roles similar to those performed by male rabbinic counterparts and thus should not be excluded from conversations affecting the Jewish community at large based solely on gender.

When I was first confronted with this question I supported the theoretical inclusion of women into the group, even if it meant removing “Rabbinic” adjective from the organization’s name. I even submitted to a subcommittee my own proposal defining criteria for women to be treated as rabbinic colleagues given that no comparable title existed at the time.1 And yet despite my earlier positions and after hearing passionate arguments in favor of admitting women, when the IRF finally voted on including women, I voted “no”. My decision may appear at first glance to be inconsistent, dishonest, or indicative of intimidation from opposition. On the contrary, as I will explain in this essay my principles remain intact. My position is not based on the identity politics of gender but on what I perceive to be the role and function of rabbinic leadership in Judaism.
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Episode 2 – Response to the RCA’s Women’s Resolution

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) adopted Women’s Communal Roles in Orthodox Jewish Life“.

Today’s podcast discusses what this resolution really means and possible ramifications of Orthodox Judaism.

Episode 2 – RCA Womens Resolution

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RCA Post-Conference Press Release

Just received following e-mail from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), commentary to follow:

Far-Reaching Policy Decisions Taken at the Annual Convention of the Rabbinical Council of America

Members of the Rabbinical Council of America from all over North America gathered this week in Scarsdale NY for the 51st annual convention of the world’s largest organization of Orthodox rabbis. As always, the gathering was an opportunity for rabbis in pulpits, education, academia, Jewish organizational life, and the health care/military chaplaincies to strengthen their personal and professional skills and connections, via major plenary presentations, workshop sessions, and multiple networking settings.

This year’s convention deliberations were informed by a number of high profile issues confronting the Jewish people at large, and the religious community in particular. While numerous sessions were devoted to Israel, Iran, US-Israel relations, conversion issues, rabbinic boundaries, Orthodox teens, counseling, dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease, death and burial, family conflict, and others, a central topic generating sustained discussion by convention delegates involved rabbinic views on the parameters of appropriate women’s communal roles.

Having heard from a broad spectrum of members, leading congregational rabbis, and a number of respected halachic authorities, a committee headed by Rabbi Leonard Matanky of Chicago, IL, submitted a resolution on appropriate communal roles for women. Rather than delineating a specific menu or roadmap of appropriate or inappropriate roles and positions, the resolution sought to articulate the broad dimensions and values that, from an Orthodox perspective, should inform and shape the discussion and implementation of this defining issue in months and years to come. These include the importance of appropriate sensitivity to tradition, communal sensitivities, as well as the desire of both men and women to enhance Torah and mitzvoth, personally and communally. So too, is the need for a thorough foundation in appropriate halachic and communal precedent and process.

With these considerations framing the convention discussion, the convention resolution as adopted, stated as follows:

Resolution on Women’s Communal Roles in Orthodox Jewish Life

Presented to the 51st Convention of

The Rabbinical Council of America

April 26th 2010

1) The flowering of Torah study and teaching by God-fearing Orthodox women in recent decades stands as a significant achievement. The Rabbinical Council of America is gratified that our chaverim[1] have played a prominent role in facilitating these accomplishments.

2) We members of the Rabbinical Council of America see as our sacred and joyful duty the practice and transmission of Judaism in all of its extraordinary, multifaceted depth and richness – halakhah,[2] hashkafah,[3] tradition and historical memory.

3) In light of the opportunity created by advanced women’s learning, the Rabbinical Council of America encourages a diversity of halakhically and communally appropriate professional opportunities for learned, committed women, in the service of our collective mission to preserve and transmit our heritage. Due to our aforesaid commitment to sacred continuity, however, we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.

4) Young Orthodox women are now being reared, educated, and inspired by mothers, teachers and mentors who are themselves beneficiaries of advanced women’s Torah education. As members of the new generation rise to positions of influence and stature, we pray that they will contribute to an ever-broadening and ever-deepening wellspring of talmud Torah,[4] yir’at Shamayim,[5] and dikduk be-mitzvot.[6]

______________________

The full complement of convention resolutions can be accessed through this link: http://www.rabbis.org/news/index.cfm?type=policies

[1] members

[2] Jewish Law

[3] Jewish thought

[4] Torah study

[5] fear of Heaven

[6] scrupulous observance of commandments

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