RCA Statement Regarding Recent Developments at Yeshivat Maharat

A few words  about the following post: You may or may not be aware of the ongoing “innovations” that Rabbi Avi Weiss has introduced into the North American Orthodox community over the past several years.  One of his projects is Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, created as a foil to Yeshiva University’s RIETS.  Chovevei is known for its left-leaning hashkafa and “social action” agenda.  In 2010, Weiss pushed the envelope by giving Sarah Hurwitz the quasi-rabbinic title, “Rabba”, with the goal of moving towards Orthodox ordination for women. The Rabbinical Council of America, of which I am a proud member, formulated a clear resolution at the time to respond to the Hurwitz story. Now Weiss’ dream has become a reality with an upcoming ordination ceremony for three women at “Yeshivat Maharat”.

What makes this issue tough to navigate for most people is the distinction between advanced learning opportunities for women within the Orthodox fold and women rabbis.  This is a nuanced issue that relates to the difference between Torah knowledge and establishing innovations and precedents in Halacha.  It takes poskim with “big shoulders” – those who internalize the dictum איזהו חכם – הרואה את הנולד
“Who is wise? One who sees what is born of his actions” – to facilitate major changes that will impact on the Torah community for generations to come.  At any rate, here is the RCA statement:

In light of the recent announcement that Yeshivat Maharat will celebrate the “ordination as clergy” of its first three graduates, and in response to the institution’s claim that it “is changing the communal landscape by actualizing the potential of Orthodox women as rabbinic leaders,” the Rabbinical Council of America reasserts its position as articulated in its resolution of April 27, 2010, that:”In light of the opportunity created by advanced women’s learning, the Rabbinical Council of America encourages a diversity of halachically 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.”The RCA views this event as a violation of our mesorah (tradition) and regrets that the leadership of the school has chosen a path that contradicts the norms of our community.
About the RCA:
The Rabbinical Council of America, with national headquarters in New York City, is a professional organization serving more than 1000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, and around the world. Membership is comprised of duly ordained Orthodox Rabbis who serve in positions of the congregational rabbinate, Jewish education, chaplaincies, and other allied fields of Jewish communal work

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