Saturday, March 06, 2010

RCA and R. Avi Weiss II

Details about what R. Avi Weiss said today, from the Riverdale Press (link):

HIR's Rabbi Weiss reaches accord with Jewish leaders over 'rabba' title

By Kate Pastor

The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale’s Rabbi Avi Weiss is not backing down from bestowing the title of "rabba" on Sara Hurwitz early this year, a move that in recent weeks has stirred controversy within the Orthodox Jewish community.

But “for the sake of peace,” he said he came to an agreement on Friday with the Rabbinical Council of America -- a group of almost 1,000 Orthodox rabbis -- not to confer the title upon graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a school he founded this fall to educate female spiritual leaders.

Click here to read moreInstead, they will be given the title of "maharat," meaning "leader in Jewish religious law, spiritual matters and Torah," which can be tailored by each of their hiring institutions as they see fit, Rabbi Weiss said.

Rabbi Weiss addressed congregants' concerns that HIR might no longer be considered Orthodox for its use of the rabba title, saying that a news story which claimed the RCA was considering expelling him was untrue and citing the RCA’s own denial that there had been any basis to the report.

He also pushed back against The Agudath Israel Council of Torah Sages’ statement, which he quoted from as follows: “Any congregation with a woman in a rabbinical position of any sort cannot be considered Orthodox.”

Rabbi Weiss was firm in his insistence that Ms. Hurwitz’s role does not in any way defy Jewish law, reiterating that it has not changed from when she held the title of maharat.

“Although the statement singles me out,” Rabbi Weiss said, “the scope includes many other modern Orthodox synagogues who have women performing rabbinical roles of some sort.”

He vowed to start an internal dialogue about the title and began by taking questions from among the approximately 200 people gathered to hear him speak.

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