A letter to the OU

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  • #1402140

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    A friend of mine sent this as an email to the OU, and asked me to try and get others to write something similar. Maybe if enough people do write in, they will take action.

    I am writing to protest the inclusion of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale as an OU-member shul.
    As is well known, HIR is the source of Open Orthodoxy. They violate the OU’s stance on Women in rabbinic roles, as they list not just one, but two women with the titles of Rabba on their web site!
    Just recently, HIR sent out a message wishing a mazal tov to two young men on their engagement, and wishing that they build a bayis ne’eman b’yisrael. This blatant violation of halachah should not be recognized at all by an Orthodox shul, never mind being celebrated!
    I urge you to review whether you want the OU associate with a place like HIR, and consider expelling them as members.
    Thank you.

    #1402216

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    I was so horrified by that whole mazel tov. then I got to the part about bayis neeman and couldn’t even fathom what was goin thru their minds when they typed it!!! Thanks for giving a suggestion of something we can do about it.

    I am also eagerly awaiting a post from Joseph putting both of you on the same side of an issue!!!!!!
    🎉🎉🍾

    #1402225

    Joseph
    Participant

    When people wrote to the RCA asking why they continued to allow Mr. Avi Weiss continue remaining to be a RCA rabbinical member, the RCA never responded. (Eventually Mr. Weiss left a few years ago on his own initiative.)

    #1402247

    gavriel613
    Participant

    Not in the parsha but am confused about what you’re accusing HIR of. You start of by saying that they have funny shitoos about women. Then you suggest they endorse gay marriage. Thats like saying you don’t like trump because he’s impolite and also because he wants to sell america to russia.

    #1402248

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Its one thing to expel Avi Weiss and another to expel a shul. Expelling a shul many times will expel the members of that shul as well. There is no way to know if everyone who goes to HIR feels the same way about such events, they might just go there because they like the davening. However many here are assuming that if HIR is thrown out of the OU, those people will leave and go somewhere else, that might not be the case and people might turn against the OU vs turning on Avi Weiss and it will backfire

    One always has to be careful about this, no matter how one feels on a particular issue

    #1402259

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    zdad – in many cases you are correct. To turn away people who are doing things differently runs the risk of turning them away. But in this case you are very wrong because the shul is participating in different things that are absolutely against torah. Period. when a shul decides they will allow someone to wear a baseball hat on Shabbos instead of a kippa, that is not the same as this and for someone to attend such a shul because they like the davening, is to be just too liberal, open and accepting. there is a point where we do have to stand up for Halacha and not just embrace everyone around us. To do that, would be to stand for nothing.

    #1402260

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    gavriel – I cannot imagine what you can possibly be confused about.

    #1402300

    The little I know
    Participant

    As a major organization that stands for Torah values, the OU cannot give a “hechsher” on something that is inconsistent with Torah. It is not about throwing them out of OU. If they truly espouse values that are contrary to Torah, they are simply ineligible. the OU has many departments, but the world perceives them as a stamp of kashrus. It’s one thing to accept a more lenient psak halacha. It is quite another to welcome a shul that violates basics. If expelling them makes them feel bad, they may seek therapy. Feelings do matter, but not here.

    #1402308

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    SY

    What we disagree on is that I dont think using the stick is always effective and has recently backfires. We are much better off trying to use the carrot (Yes the carrot can fail to) I just think people who are more on the edge of orhtodoxy need the carrot more than the stick.

    One can always do tshuva for a personal averiah, Its much harder to get someone who feels like he was punished by a community

    #1402319

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    Zdad – I understand what you are saying, and I think it is great when you try to advocate giving room to people instead of taking a harsh approach that may cause them to fall farther away. But you have to understand that giving people room and sparing the stick is not possible when Torah is being violated. If you are telling people not to be so harsh because you know Torah is truth and you don’t want people to give it up than you are right. But when you start posting that we have to use the carrot approach and not the stick when it means allowing people to do things that are unquestionably AGAINST Torah, then you are not really supporting torah at all, you are just supporting liberalism. No matter how accepting and positive you want to be, and I am almost always with you on that, you are not allowed to give a green light to breaking actual Halacha for the sake of peace (except extenuating circumstances). Your love for peace should not be more of a priority than your love for Gd, even though some kiruv professionals say to do so, it is not proven to work. The people you are protecting will see hypocracy. there must be an ultimate cause that you are fighting for.

    #1402325

    gavriel613
    Participant

    @syag, I’m confused because first HIR is accused of sthg which is certainly highly problematic (rabbas), but then accused of sthg absolutely terrible (gay marriage). After the second accusation, the first one kind of pales into insignificance, its a bit like accusing a serial killer of bad table manners

    #1402333

    The little I know
    Participant

    This situation is not the carrot nor the stick. No one is looking to punish a shul for breaking Torah rules. The OU can simply say that they do not comply with the Torah standard of halacha, and expel them from membership. Perhaps the organization needs to examine the process in which they were approved – something did not work. But ousting them is not punishment. If I got accepted to the plumbers union through an error, expelling me would not be a punishment. I should never have been there in the first place. I don’t get the discussion about a stick, punishing them, maybe some members would reject even more halacha because of this, etc.

    #1402336

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    We live in a time where not only is it acceptable to non be frum, Its acceptable to leave and when going out the door write a book or a blog post how evil those who kicked the person out are and have lots of people read it and belive it

    #1402339

    The little I know
    Participant

    Is there any reaction from the OU?

    ZD: You make a good point, but I fail to see the relevance to this thread.

    #1402365

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    TLIK

    If the OU would kick out HIR, i can see members from HIR going to the NY Times, NY post all the NYC TV stations calling the OU all sorts of names usually ending in the letters -phobic and how evil they were.

    #1402367

    DovidBT
    Participant

    Does the OU have any requirements or conditions for membership? I browsed through their site, but couldn’t find anything.

    #1402390

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    gavriel613: HIR is not being “accused” of anything, they have done these things by ordaining women rabba’s and have wished mazal tov to two gentlemen on their “engagement”. HIR and Yeshiva Chovavei Torah share the same address. Avi Weiss founded both.

    #1402397

    Joseph
    Participant

    The RCA was no better than the OU.

    #1402418

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    Joseph, I believe I’ve written before about why Weiss wasn’t kicked out.
    The RCA had a big meeting to discuss it. They determined that if they kicked him out, he’d probably file a lawsuit, and bring a lot of publicity to his new religion. It was decided that keeping his students out would be enough. He’d either leave on his own (which is what happened), or, given that he’s not young, would eventually be gone. Either way, they avoid the publicity, and keep his influence out of the RCA.

    #1402436

    The little I know
    Participant

    ZD:

    I did not check the OU website, but I am certain there are requirements for membership. There is also a “Mission Statement”, and I would have to believe that this also references the adherence to halacha. The OU can easily state such a requirement and note that since HIR adopts a different set of guidelines, their membership is an error. They have not damaged HIR in any way, and the only basis for lawsuits is the thirst that some people may have to create a chilul Hashem. Regardless, the OU needs to take a stand on this. I cannot tell them what actions to take, and having no expertise in law, that may be a piece of guidance and direction they should consider. In any case, if a member of a club breaks the rules of the club, there needs to be a response.

    #1402441

    Joseph
    Participant

    DaMoshe, a private organization (like the RCA) has the right to decide who can become or remain a member. There’s nothing any lawsuit can do to force an organization to keep someone a member if they don’t want him.

    I can sue you to mow my lawn. Anyone can sue for anything but it would be a frivolous lawsuit that would be laughed out of court.

    #1402452

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    What would be the worst thing if the OU kicked them out, if “Activists” started a campaign against companies Like Coke, Nabasico and other national companies telling them that a company they are associated with is -Phobic and demand they stop doing business with them. Many of these companies dont want to deal with a phobic company and then drop the OU and many products will lose their kashruth or worse this “Ethical” Hashghca will try to take their place.

    For many people such products are their only access to Kashruth, they will eat non-kosher if its unavaible.

    And Dont put anything past these “Activists” They will success.

    #1402450

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    I may be one of the very few members of the CR who has actually been a President of a OU member synagogue.

    The OU is very hesitant to eliminate member synagogues, particularly those who actually remit dues. A very high percentage of the synagogues shown as members do not remit the head tax to the organization,

    The synagogue I was President of in New Haven approx 30 years ago had been a member congregation for many decades. From the early 1950s until the mid 1980s it had separate seating, but no mechitzah. The OU was happy to accept its annual dues payment and provide services, subscriptions, etc. In the mid 80-s the synagogue installed a mechitzah by request of some new congregants. As long as a synagogue professes to be orthodox, has a rabbi who was ordained at an orthodox institution, uses orthodox siddurim and machorzim, they will be accepted. No one checks to see whether there is a chain across the parking lot on Shabbos or Yuntif, or if the women cover their hair.
    The OU’s strength is in the number of affiliated congregations and members they claim to represent. I know many synagogues that no longer function on a regular basis (some only exist in name and to run their cemeteries) that still appear on the OU memebrship rolls.
    BTW>>>this also happens in the Cnservative and Reform movements,,,,nop one wants to admit falling numbers.

    #1402542

    gavriel613
    Participant

    @CTL “no one wants to admit falling numbers”
    perhaps excluding them now would in the long term prevent more members from following their example – so would prevent falling numbers

    #1402551

    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    @gavriel613
    You are being farsighted
    Too many Organizational professionals are short sighted, only interested in preserving their jobs for their work period

    #1402592

    golfer
    Participant

    Nobody wants to admit falling numbers?
    Organizational professionals only interested in preserving their jobs?
    The above may very well be true. What we’re saying is politics over principles, correct? That’s fine with me- I’m not on the board so I don’t get to decide.
    Until I realize this is the organization certifying many of the products in my pantry. Probably most of your pantries as well. Even many of the “better” hashgachos use raw materials (spices, starches and the like) in their products that are OU certified.
    Very disturbing.

    #1402806

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Golfer

    Ill repeat what happens if the OU expels them and then the Activists tell companies Like Coca Cola, Nabisco etc that a “Phobic” company full of hate is part of their business. And those companies when given a choice between the OU and the activists , will take the activisits side and lose the Hashgacha, the problem will be much greater than a small renegade synagogue in the Bronx.

    Best way would be to negogtiate some sort of “divorce”

    #1403064

    Luna Lovegood
    Participant

    There are two issues mentioned in the original post. One is the ordination of women and second is the congratulating two men on their engagement. While I can’t speak on the second issue, I have a lot to say on the first.
    A few weeks(maybe months) ago representatives from the OU sat down with Rabba Sarah and other representatives from HIR. Together, they went over the daily duties of the female staff members and the OU came to the conclusion that the actions performed by these women are not out of line with orthodoxy. These women are proving counseling services, teaching classes, and overall doing things to better their community. They are not violating halacha and therefore have not been kicked out the of the OU. While many members on this site do not agree with Rav Avi Weiss on many issues this specific situation has been monitored by the OU and they have decided that HIR can remain part of the organization. If you don’t like it then don’t go HIR but a decision was made by people far greater than you or I.

    #1403192

    golfer
    Participant

    I’m not sure you’re right zdad.
    Those companies want my business. It’s not always politics over principles but it is just about always bottom line over principles. The kosher consumer (who as I’m sure you know is not just the stereotypical guy in the black hat shuckling next to you at shachris) is of value to these large corporations. It’s always nice to try for negotiations and arbitration. At some point you just say No.

    #1403244

    DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    These women are proving counseling services, teaching classes, and overall doing things to better their community.

    They were ordained and given rabbinical titles.

    a decision was made by people far greater than you or I.

    Sorry, not buying the “daas Torah” argument here.

    #1403256

    akuperma
    Participant

    If they go to prison, and they want kosher food, so we send them some? If they get fired for not working on Shabbos, do we give them assistance in suing? Do they insist on living in walking distance of a shul since they don’t drive on Shabbos? When they apply to colleges, do they limit themselves to ones with kosher food and a minyan, and pass on athletic scholarships and ROTC (which are the two largest “merit” based scholarship programs)? Do they dress or act in ways that makes them part of a discriminated against minority, rather than part of the American mainstream?

    Most of us have learned to ignore the many forms of discrimination that have a serious impact on our lives in America. Having to live near a shul rules out most of the country, and probably most of the job opportunities – we have adjusted to live with those limits. Non-Orthodox Jews’ manner of observing Shabbos and Kashrus means they avoid almost all that discrimination. If a Jew is following halacha enough to be giving up many of the economic advantages of living in America, they are “one of us.”

    #1403278

    Luna Lovegood
    Participant

    “Sorry, not buying the “daas Torah” argument here.”

    You don’t have to. You also don’t have to eat food with an OU on the package, go to shuls that are part of the OU, or have anything to do with the OU. That’s your decision. And the OU made a decision to allow HIR to remain part of the organization. No one is forcing you follow their ruling. You don’t have to daven in a place that has ordained women. But if other’s do, then that’s their choice and they have poskim that they’ve discussed this issue with.

    #1403393

    Joseph
    Participant

    Luna: We can call out this apikorus and publicly identify him as such.

    #1403482

    DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    And nobody’s forcing you to accept my opinion.

    But they’re causing a huge chillul Hashem, and need to be called out on it.

    #1403494

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    Luna, this is taken from the OU’s official stance on female clergy:
    “…the Rabbinic Panel has made clear that women serving in clergy roles or holding clergy titles is at odds with halacha and our mesorah”
    So it doesn’t matter what she’s doing – merely holding such a title goes against halachah.

    #1403505

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Golfer, the Kosher consumer is a customer and so are the Activists. You think your business is more important to Coke (Or other such companies) than the activists business. The acitivists also have alot of sympathizers as well so that makes them alot more powerful than you think.

    #1403517

    DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    ZD, sometimes principles need to come before pragmatism.

    #1403526

    DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Also, Coke (for example) would more likely drop the symbol than become uncertified. Perhaps they would take a different certification.

    Either way, the OU needs to stand up for the Torah.

    #1403540

    Luna Lovegood
    Participant

    DaMoshe- They specifically stayed away from “Rabbi” and used “Rabba” to differentiate.

    #1403539

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    More likely companies like Coke would take the “Ethical Hashghcha” which would be good enough for most people and they dont have to deal with the acitivists.

    While its not hard to live without Coke, there are many more primary products that if the Activists manage to get removed it would greatly upset the kosher industry and even many Charedi Hashghchas who rely on the OU for Primary indgridents

    #1403538

    golfer
    Participant

    So I think you’re telling me, Zdad, that I shouldn’t be so sure of my value to the corporations because the activists are a large influential group as well.
    You may be right. In a confrontation between the two groups I’m not sure either which side will be more powerful.
    There has to be a point though where the OU, or any purported orthodox organization, stands up for clear non-negotiable Torah commandments. Otherwise what exactly does orthodox mean?

    #1403582

    Joseph
    Participant

    Luna – Mr. Weiss made a promise to the RCA that he would cease ordaining or recognizing any more women as a “rabba”, after only his first (Mrs. Sara Hurwitz) since that is virtually the same title as rabbi.

    Then Weiss broke his word and again did his rabbit tricks.

    #1403584

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    There are more people sympathetic to the Activists side and sadly some of them claim to be orthodox as well.

    #1403595

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    this issue resurfaced specifically because of this new event. So if you feel strongly about the feminist cause and supported HIR for their acknowledgement of women in these roles knowing there is rabbinical backing, that should not extend to this situation on any level. Is it possible to now acknowledge that this shul has turned it’s back on Torah or is the loyalty to it going to cause some people, unfortunately, to extend leeway where it doesn’t belong?

    #1403602

    oyyoyyoy
    Participant

    If id be the ou itd be real tough for me and i dont know if id be able to go through with it. But they have a responsibility to do it and thats what comes with being an orthodox organization for the orthodox public. If they dont like it and cant take the heat then they dont have what it takes to hold such a position. Its like when a cop takes his badge, he’s obligated to certain duties.

    #1403608

    oyyoyyoy
    Participant

    Also, syags right. Peace doesnt mean letting everything go. Pinchas killed people and he got the bris of it. If theres a cancer it gets cut out, we dont say, “oh but itl hurt to cut it out.” People may scream too much about everything but the opposite extreme causes decay as well.

    #1403628

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    Is that really your answer?
    First off, if you ask Hurwitz, Weiss, or anyone else at HIR, if Rabba was a title that denoted clergy, they’d say yes. Second, Weiss himself said that Rabba is the female equivalent of Rabbi. Third, when he gave her the title of Rabba, Weiss himself said “This will make it clear to everyone that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice.”
    So please, explain to me why the title Rabba doesn’t violate the OU’s stance.

    #1403768

    Luna Lovegood
    Participant

    Arguing over her title doesn’t solve any issues. It’s semantics.
    If the OU had a theological problem with the activities and responsibilities of these women they would have said so and they would have taken action. But they didn’t.

    #1403777

    DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    If semantics were so unimportant, why didn’t Weiss just call her rabbi?

    If the OU had a theological problem with the activities and responsibilities of these women they would have said so and they would have taken action. But they didn’t.

    Does the fact that the OU hasn’t taken action against the mazel tov announcement also prove that they don’t have a theological problem with two men getting married (r”l)?

    #1403784

    Luna Lovegood
    Participant

    The reason I chose not to address the two men getting engaged is because I don’t anything about it and don’t feel I should comment.
    I do know, for a fact, that the OU sat down with Rabba Sarah and told her that they don’t have any issues with her daily responsibilities.
    Even if she changed her title she would still be doing the same things she is doing now. So I don’t understand why people have an issue with her title. If you don’t want want women rabbis you should protest her daily responsibilities. But the OU went over her those with her agreed that they had no problems with what she does.

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