MAILBAG: People Should Cancel Their O.U. Membership Over Inclusion Of ‘Open-Orthodoxy’ Synagogues


In Mid-November YWN published a “Mailbag” which caused a stir among Shuls, Rabbonim and members of the O.U.

The letter-writer was protesting the inclusion of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale as an OU-member shul despite having just 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.

Today YWN received the following (unedited) letter. The writer requested that his name be removed:

Dear YWN,

I have sent the attached letter to the 2018 Membership drive of the OU. I feel that if enough people express similar sentiments, perhaps it might influence the situation. Please fell free to publish it.

December 31, 2017

Mr. Moshe Bane, President Orthodox Union Eleven Broadway, 14th Floor New York, NY 10004

Re: Membership 2018

Dear Mr. Bane:

I would like to commend you for all of the tremendous work that the O.U. does for and on behalf of Klal Yisrael, in all endeavors of Jewish life.

It therefore, greatly pains me that I cannot accept membership in the organization at this time. Unfortunately, the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America is currently infected by a virulent type of cancer that is spreading very rapidly and endangering, not only the O.U., but all of those Jews who identify with the concept of Orthodoxy as envisioned by Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik zt”l, and beyond. The movement that calls itself “Open Orthodoxy” and it’s aligned Rabbis, Rabbahs, institutions, and “synagogues”, have succeeded in doing in about ten years what it took the Conservative Movement over 60 years to accomplish.

The Movement is based upon TOTAL APIKORSES and has no place within a movement which is guided by the principles set down by Rav Yosher Ber z”l and other Gedolei Hador. Moreover, allowing them a place in the O.U. affords them an air of legitimacy and respectability that can easily lead astray innocent naïve modern Orthodox Baal Habatim who want to be frum, and are really Yirei Shamayim. (I won’t bore you with the details; Rabbis Gordimer and Pruzansky and others have published extensively on the topic).

I look forward to the day (I hope it is soon, before it’s too late) that the leaders of the O.U. recognize this cancer and exorcise it from its midst.

B’Ahavas Yisrael,

(Name withheld upon request)

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. I’m not a big fan of the “open orthodox” and similar so called “movements” but I’m even more concerned about the seemingly endless efforts to find new broigas within klal yisroel and new groups to marginalize. We celebrated 10 days of achdus when Shlomo Mordechai was set free as the result of the collective efforts by yidden from all segments of the tzibur, incuding many conservative and reform, as well as many chashuve goyim. However, now it seems we are back to “business as usual” tearing down those who deviate from our views.

  2. We can’t have an apikorsus group leading Jews.
    Nothing to do with achdus, everything to do with following Hashem’s Torah, going neither left or right from it.

  3. Umm Gadolhadorah…

    Look at the achdus and ahavas yisroel demonstrated by the “Open Orthodox”.

    Here is a quote from “Rabbi” Shmuly Yanklowitz published in an article on December 25 2017. This guy belongs to the “Open Orthodox” movement and is the founder of “Uri L’Tzedek, the Orthodox Jewish Social Justice Movement” and “Tav HaYosher ethical seal to attest that kosher restaurants in North America treated their workers to the highest standards of decency and dignity.”

    This was published in a national publication.

    “On Wednesday, when word came that Mr. Sholom Rubashkin’s sentence was commuted, I was in shock.”

  4. Open Orthodoxy, liberal modern orthodox, and “do what you want” modern orthodox, need NOT be recognized by anyone as orthodox. It is a mockery to Judaism and we have enough enemies outside that we dont need anyone destroying us from within. Were the conservative and reform movements not enough for klal yisrael? Do we need more of THEM!!!!

  5. Re: Gadolhadorah comment

    Unfortunately you are missing the point – as you say regarding “many conservative and reform, as well as many chashuve goyim” – are they claiming to be orthodox? Do they try to associate with an umbrella orthodox organization to “cover up” their total disregard and disdain to orthodoxy? Definitely not!

    That’s the point here – don’t you understand? A non-religious Jew, or Goy who recognizes what he represents is not the problem here being discussed – this is an issue with those who are trying to appear orthodox while “laughing off” orthodoxy.

    How does the NYPD treat someone guilty of “impersonating a police officer”?

  6. If a synagog has separate seating, follows the traditional sidur, and holds by Shabbos and Kashrus, they are orthodox. In the past there have even been a “theives’s shul” (shul sponsored by professional criminals). Even if someone has ridiculous politics, and odd tastes, if they hold by Shabbos and Kashrus, they are one of “us” no matter how deviant they are.

  7. Re tracht abisel comment:

    You pointed to the big issue – it’s the individuals that are guilty of impersonating Orthodox (I hate that term but whatever) rabbis who are the problem. OU congregations have hired YCT rabbis who are perfectly fine yirei shomayim who are willing to be rabbis in small, out-of-town shuls that have historically worked more with non-Orthodox colleagues than current RIETS graduates may be comfortable doing. Nothing more than that. However, we do have a Torah responsibility to call out the Shmuly Yanklowitzes, Zev Farbers, Ysocher Katzes and any other rabbi-impersonators who are grabbing headlines and really are “chotim u’machtim es horabim”. We dare not simply “agree to disagree” with their views for the sake of some amorphous “achdus”.

  8. It’s NOT a matter of “tearing down those who deviate from our views.” Torah-observant Jews do not have Achdus with those persons who deliberately distort and violate the Torah, which is an expression of Hashem’s views, not our views. A Mazal Tov to a Toeiva couple R”L is a violation of Hashem’s Torah. Treating a person as a Jew, who has a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father (which is what “Reform” does), is a violation of Hashem’s Torah. The Reform, Conservative, and Open Orthodoxy movements are all based on violations of Hashem’s Torah. Are Torah-observant Jews to C”V have Achdus with those persons or movements that deliberately rebel against the Torah, the Word of Hashem?

  9. i am surprised by a comment that violates a biblical level prohibition of oppressing a ger. i would propose that we boycott agudah for their inclusion of anti-zionist satmar in their midst. please do not use rabbi gordimer as a reference. if you note the comments on his last post, he really stepped over the boundary on what our mesorah allows and in fact encourages

  10. The RCA will not accept as musmachim the graduates of YCT, and the OU would presumably not accept a new shul led by a YCT “rabbi”. After it was condemned by the OU, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale announced it would no longer congratulate toevah “marriages” in their newsletter. Had the shul refused there might be grounds to expel them, but pressure is working.

  11. GH,

    so if reform or conservative decided to start calling themselves some sort of orthodox, (i.e. progressive orthodox, new age orthodox or any other variation you want to make up), you would say that we should welcome the movement with open arms because of achdus?

  12. The problem with people who have Rachmanus on achzurim they themselves will have achzorious on true Rachmanim.Though the OU has fine intentions they have followed YU in tacitly accepting open disrespect and disregard for our holy Torah and “open” here means not accepting Torah and its laws.Ahavas Yisroel does not mean ignoring Halacha or making light of the words of Hashem.

  13. MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 2018
    Dayan of Eida Hachreidis Calls Rav Shteinman zt”l “זרע עמלק”.

    The Eida Hacreidis, a Satmar Organization in E. yisrael is in the Kashrut business and gives the Hashgacha on thousands of kosher products.

    A Eidah hachredis Dayan who goes by the name of Yhoshua Rosenberger called R’ Shteinman ztl “עמלק” in a statement that he gave and was posted in all shuls in the year 2011.
    He wrote this when R’ Shteinman was still alive!

    Lets call a spade a spade and call a ban on all products which have the hechsher of the Badatz Eida Charedis . Say NO to “בד”ץ עדה חרידית”. The only language they understand is when they are hit in thier pockets.

  14. FAKE NEWS ALERT! I went and looked at the November 3rd 2017 announcements and do NOT see anywhere that they ” wishing that they build a bayis ne’eman b’yisrael” . While you may question the wishing of good luck (Mazal Tov) to the grandmother they do not advocate anything like you quote. Why make things worse than they are?

  15. ” this is an issue with those who are trying to appear orthodox while “laughing off” orthodoxy.”

    I don’t even think they are trying. The OO seems very clearly Conservative at best. We’re putting way too much weight on the fact that they happen to include the word “Orthodox” in their title. They aren’t frum; it’s pretty simple to see. Tons of people who call themselves Modern Orthodox aren’t really frum either. You just have to go person by person when dealing with the extreme religious left.

    I agree with the letter, but I’m sure there have been plenty of OU Shuls sharing Weis’ ideas over the years. This is just a high-profile example.

  16. I read a post by one of the recipients of the above mentioned mazel tov. He expressed frustration that his shul complied with the OU’s pressure not to wish any similar mazel tovs in the future. If so, why should we cancel membership with the OU? They did what they should…

    @frumeyid did you quote the full comment? Maybe he meant that he was in shock that President Trump finally released him…

  17. Open Orthodox Is not Acceptable
    There hashkofis are Acorrding to shulcon oruch , If The ou Is part of them
    Then We can not trust the ou for kashrus

  18. Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l used to say he is not an ‘orthodox’ Jew but a
    Torah Jew. Orthodox can mean anything you want it to mean. Torah is only as defined by Gedolei Yisroel and mesorah.

  19. @refoelzeev

    Yes, I did quote the whole thing. It is quite clear from the article that Shmuly Yanklowitz was disappointed Rubashkin was released early. I just didn’t want to quote more of his trash.

  20. I feel like some people do not understand who the OPEN-ORTHODOX are. Their not like modern orthodox,but like the reform and conservative or maybe even worse. There is unfortunately no reason to have achdus with them, Rather were probably responsible to fight them with all our might before they destroy more Yidden.

    Doesn’t the OU consult our Gedolim for direction?
    So who here (persons on the internet) is authorised to criticize them?
    Better write a letter to these people who have strayed from the Derech
    & explain to them with great Chochma, your pain for the One Above, as you would (or should) one’s own child.
    Arent we, after all, referring to Kinderlech of the Tata of us all.
    Or write to the OU. Maybe they will enlighten all those who go to the effort instead of …..

  22. USnebech, no authorization is required to stand up for what’s right. Do you want us to all mindlessly follow whoever’s “authorized”?

  23. I don’t believe the OH is much better than Open Orthodoxy. A lot of tarievus and acceptance of boorish secular behaviour. As of now, I don’t buy anything with the OU hechsher besides for drinks from the Coke company.

  24. akuperma, z’s dad, the original letter writer and everyone else: have you heard of bmh-bj, an OU affiliated, due paying shul in Denver?

  25. Reply to RebYiddKafGimmel

    If I am correct, Harav Avigdor Miller Zatzal used to say the same as you “Stand up for what’s right and write a letter ”

    “mindlessly follow whoever….”
    I must agree with you, that expressing one’s views here, or anywhere anonymously, with very limited effort could be described that way, but that’s not what I wrote.

    This option involves effort.
    As a note of caution: Maybe we show it to someone with a little more Seichel then the writer,
    to optimise the message desired & gain the most. As one might do to approach a potentially big customer, WHOM ONE WOULD HATE TO LOSE…

  26. Den vai u buy Coke? cause you like it very much.
    All dee heimish hashgochas rely on the ou-Gevald.

    De OU is dee real heimish hashgocha, besides milchig, fleish, n chicken.

  27. “rabbi” DR. Shmuly Yanklowitz was a darling of Fake News media for long time. His brazen vile character always stuck me as some one who can be described as typical erav raf or a mamzer. But recently I got my answer: he is neither because he is not even Jewish. According to his own recent admition he was raised by his Xtian mother who never converted. He himself went through Reform “conversion” at his teens but later went through “Orthodox” conversion which is questionable, based on his public denouncements of Torah values and vile hatred towards frum Yiden.

  28. I don’t believe the OH is much better than Open Orthodoxy. A lot of tarievus and acceptance of boorish secular behaviour. As of now, I don’t buy anything with the OU hechsher besides for drinks from the Coke company.

    All the Charedi Hashghcas rely on the OU for basic ingrediants, so even if you only buy Hemish Brands, the Hemish brands rely on the OU for the more basic ingrediats that the hemish brand cannot get into

  29. He is grousing that his Tav HaYosher seal is basically useless. all his grandstanding then and over the years, turns out was for naught.

  30. Will an “open orthodox” is prison or in the military or in a hospital be keeping kosher in a standard, will will be helping them? If one of the “open orthodox” gets fired for not working on Shabbos, will be offering legal assistance (as we do for Jews) or merely offering an amicus brief (as we do when non-Jews are suing on the issue).

    If they redefine Shabbos, or Kashrus, or rewrite the siddur (these be things that the “Conservatives” did), they are over the line. But if not, they may be weirdos and deviants and nutcases – but they are “our” weirdos and deviants and nutcases.

  31. It is perfectly reasonable to refrain from checking the tzitzis of everyone we meet. But I will check my own before donning the talis. It is likely that the shul where I daven has others there who come for the tefilos who have transgressed on any of several things, including chilul Shabbos, illicit relationships, dishonesty in business, etc. I would not know because I never investigated. That attitude is okay for the average bloke.

    But when someone is in a position of leadership, a “man of the cloth”, a personage of respectable status, I expect integrity that is equal in the greatest of privacy. If he secretly eats non-kosher food, he loses the credibility to serve as a rabbi of anything, not a shul, not a kashrus job, not a mechanech. These neo-orthodox movements retain the word “orthodox” in their label to claim status as Torah observant. But they do what all the reform and conservative movements did – they pick and choose which mitzvos they want, and how to do them in ways that must accommodate to their desires. Sorry, but that has zero compatibility with Torah. Of OU stands for a Torah lifestyle, then there is no place for these groups or their leaders.

    Rabbi Twerski often stated that Torah is a combination lock, with the numbers to it being 6-1-3. Whichever other numbers you will use, even if mathematically close, with the most sweet sounding excuses, the lock will not open.

    So who wants to be a Torah Jew?

  32. For those that don’t know what “open-Orthodox” means,

    It’s like an “Open-Marriage”.

    Who wants to be affiliated in any form with such menuvolim?

  33. It seems the same person writes the same letter every other week. Leave the ou alone the frum world would be in a lot of trouble without the ou. thank you ou for all that you do for am yisroel!

  34. We need someone that will act like Rabbi Hirsh of blessed memory who fought tooth and nail against the Reform and Conservative leadership in Germany.Someone who will lash out against this Trojan horse trying to dress itself Orthodox,when it is no where close to what orthodox Judaism should be.
    The question is who wants to seize the moment and speak out,despite how unpopular he will be.
    It is unfortunate to see our fellow Jewish brothers and sisters to fall to these charlatans.
    We need someone not afraid to rattle the OU administration,and to keep it up ,to rectify this terrible wrong that is happening in our midst,and to do it now.

  35. Some of you commented, foolishly I must add, about the Kashrus of the OU. I have many friends who work for the OU in various capacities and I feel I must take you to task on your comment.

    The Union Of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Of America, more commonly referred to as “the OU” made up of many different divisions, which usually have NOTHING to do with each other. Kashrus is Kashrus and the shul part is called Synagogue Services. There’s also NCSY,Yachad, etc. If not for the fact that they work in the same building I’m Manhattan, they may never see each other.

    Kashrus is made up of rabbonim who are yiray shomayim who are tops in their field. No other agency can come close. They might think they can, but making nice magazines doesn’t mean anything. One more thing, if you don’t want to eat OU, I would suggest you begin by growing your own wheat, corn, soy etc., and you’ll need a cow for milk. That’s just the beginning. You cannot about the OU.

  36. “If they redefine Shabbos, or Kashrus, or rewrite the siddur (these be things that the “Conservatives” did), they are over the line. But if not, they may be weirdos and deviants and nutcases – but they are “our” weirdos and deviants and nutcases.”

    By your narrow definition a person could practice full-blown Avodah Zarah and still “one of us.” It has been reported before on this site that OO Rabbis have essentially denied the belief in future coming of Moshiach all together, which is really enough to put them on the out alone.

    And, by the way, Chassidim and the MO both kind of “rewrote the siddur” in a sense. I don’t think anyone has ever considered that THE driving difference between us and the Conservatives.

  37. To those defending the ou , you should ask yourselves

    Imagine a shul under the Eidah Hacharedit in yerushalayim would allow a woman to lead the service or read from the torah

    Would the eidah charedit passive wait 5 years before taking any action?

  38. In answer to the OP, I won’t give up my membership to the OU. They provide many necessary services to our community, kashrus, outreach, dealing with tuition issues and so forth. But I do hope that the OU Shul services division will expel those shuls that affiliate with the philosophy of Open Orthodoxy. Let Yanklowitz start his own equivalent agency instead.

  39. How many people reading this were ever members of the OU to begin with? I’m guessing very few.

    I used to be a member despite my differences in haskfa with them. Then they took a position that caused me to feel that I can no longer be a member of a group that has such a position.

    That said they still accomplish good things and despite not being a member I would not publicly fight with them.

    If you feel strongly about this issue you will accomplish a lot by calling and writing to them expressing your opinion than by hocking about it online.

  40. According to the RAMBAM, the highest form of Chesed is job-placement and job-training. For several years, revenues from OU Kashrus supervision were used to support the OU Job Board, which helped thousands of Jews find employment.

    As a result of a series of internal conflicts with the head of their Job Board, OU leadership closed it!

    We respectfully request that OU re-open their Job Board.

  41. In case you have not noticed, no Gadol on the level of a Rav Dovid Finestein has advocated that yidden cancel their OU memberships or not to eat from OU hashgacha. Therefore, all posters who call for this action are total amaratzim.
    In addition, almost all heimeshe hashgachos rely and depend on the OU hashgacha for their own endorsements.

  42. a erliche chsidishe yid ,yires shumayim never relied on OU hechsher…yes of course the chareidishe community is only a small percentage but we all know that they are the leaders in Kashrus…..
    Look at Meat and Dairy products and Wine and Baked goods, they all are run by heimishe hashguches but they all need the OU symbol to be able to market the jewish communities but the roots are heimishe erliche manufacturers like Kedem, Mehadrin, Meal Mart and Kemach and the rest.
    How can any consumer really rely on OU when they can really acknowledge a marriage which is forbidden by the Torah?
    How low did we fall?

  43. In a terrible violation of “Lifnei Iver Lo Sitain Michshol” the OU certifies numerous coffee creamers that are labeled “NON-Dairy” — in spite of the ingredients stating — in fine print — that they contain “sodium caseinate (a milk derivative).”

    I am certain that many fellow Jews use them in Fleishig meals, because they do not read the fine print!!!

  44. Any threats to not eat OU products are foolish and false. It basically means you will be eating nothing but raw fruits and vegetables. Name me one “heimishe” hechsher that does not rely on the OU for certifying ingredients.

  45. Reply To Gadolhadorah:
    You appear unable to identify a group that actively repudiates central teachings of Judaism. This is sad. Whilst some would include other such sects, or at least their members on a personal basis, for specific purposes, eg praying for soldiers in Israel during a war, no Orthodox community can or may allow inclusion of such a sect within its ranks. This has kept Orthodoxy pure from contamination since the Samaritans, Hellenizers, Christians, Karaites, and all the rest who have plagued us for milennia. This was the position taken by all the Gedoile Yisroel when the Reform was at its peak, and has never been abandoned.

  46. zahavasdad: This is a much-qoted falsehood. All the major kashrus organizations have their own databses of permited igredients, and by default do not rely on any other organization. Otherwise, should one make a mistake, it would never be caught. This way, they all check on eachother.

    So please forget the cute PR line on behalf of the OU, that everything comes back to them. It doesn’t.

  47. To the Rabbi of Crawley

    MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 2018
    Dayan of Eida Hachreidis Calls Rav Shteinman zt”l “זרע עמלק”.

    The Eida Hacreidis, a Satmar Organization in E. yisrael is in the Kashrut business and gives the Hashgacha on thousands of kosher products.

    A Eidah hachredis Dayan who goes by the name of Yhoshua Rosenberger called R’ Shteinman ztl “עמלק” in a statement that he gave and was posted in all shuls in the year 2011.
    He wrote this when R’ Shteinman was still alive!

    Lets call a spade a spade and call a ban on all products which have the hechsher of the Badatz Eida Charedis . Say NO to “בד”ץ עדה חרידית”. The only language they understand is when they are hit in thier pockets.

  48. Why is everyone behind the times?

    “Open Orthodox” is no longer their name.

    Now they have renamed it to be “Modern Orthodox.”

    Wonder what name they will use next?

    If they cannot decide on a permanent name how can they rule on halacha and events they wish to change and expect Jews to rely on anything they say at all?

    This is a new “tradition” based on the egos of sadly confused Jews.

    We’ve been through this before throughout our history.