Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Correcting a Mistake

Rabbi Avi Weiss - photo credit: The Forward
It’s the right move. 

While I am very critical of Rabbi Avi Weiss about his departure from his Rebbi, Rav Soloveitchik and flirting with the outer edges of left wing Orthodoxy, I have always maintained that he has not yet crossed any strict lines of Halacha. And I don’t think he ever will. I do agree with his critics however that coming ever so close to those lines is a dangerous game.

A game where such lines may someday be crossed.  If not by him, then by successor ideologues of the left. This is after all how the Conservative Movement started. And Rabbi Weiss will be the first one to tell you that Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism are not compatible movements.

This is why I was critical of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate for refusing to accept his testimony on behalf of converts seeking to get married in Israel. And I was equally critical of certain unnamed members of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) for instigating the initial animus towards Rabbi Weiss by the Rabbinate - with misleading comments about his actual Mitzvah observance.

As I said at the time, it is one thing for the Rabbinate to require standards of conversion that if unmet, would disqualify a conversion. They have the right to implement whatever standards they wish – even if it doesn’t suit others. But it is an entirely different matter to disqualify an observant Orthodox Rabbi, no matter how controversial,  to testify about the Jewish status of a covert.

I am happy to report that Rabbinate now sees it my way. They have reversed their position and will now allow Rabbi Weiss’s to testify as to the legitimacy of a convert’s status as a Jew.

Sometimes good things do happen.