Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is He or isn’t He?

There is yet another development in what seems to be the never ending story of Rabbi Avi Weiss and the ordination of women to the Orthodox rabbinate. Apparently the Rabbinical Council of America has clarified its position on the subject - which has caused Agudath Israel to follow suit with a statement of their own:

Hamodia reports that Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, First Vice-President of the Rabbinical Council of America, has clarified that the RCA “in no way endorses the title ‘maharat’ or the ‘maharat’ program under the direction of Rabbi Avi Weiss.”

Rabbi Goldin further quotes RCA President Rabbi Moshe Kletenik as having stated that ordination of women “is a breach of our Mesorah and is unacceptable practice in Orthodoxy,” and that “it is also unacceptable for an Orthodox synagogue to have a woman on its rabbinical staff.”

Agudath Israel warmly welcomes the clarification and commends the RCA leaders for their forthright and principled words.

May we all continue to stand guard to protect the integrity of our Mesorah.

To quote Stan Laural of Laural and Hardy - an old time comic duo from the forties, ‘Well - this is a fine kettle of fish!’ (Don’t ask me what that means exactly – but it seems to fit).

In what seemed to be a compromise between Rabbi Weiss and the RCA - Rabbi Weiss backtracked on calling his female Musmachim – Rabba. In exchange he was allowed to continue his Maharat program and remain a member in good standing of the RCA.

But now it is pretty clear that the RCA considers his program outside the pale. How do they square this obvious contradiction? Can someone be considered Orthodox who is responsible for the creation and continued operation of a seminary that produces a product that “a breach of our Mesorah and is unacceptable practice in Orthodoxy”?

If they do not consider him Orthodox, how can they allow a non Orthodox Rabbi membership in their fraternity? Is he Orthodox or isn’t he? How does that work? And how will Rabbi Weiss react to the RCA statement?

Stay tuned. I’m sure there is more to come.