Ultra-Orthodox organization Agudath Israel isn’t happy with the agreement between the Rabbinical Council of America and R’ Avi Weiss to continue his efforts in training women as clergy, while discontinuing his recent efforts to use the title “rabba,” as he’s done with R’ Sara Hurwitz. It doesn’t entirely square with the Agudah’s statement of a year ago, though.
Here’s the Agudah today:
The leadership of the Rabbinical Council of America and Rabbi Avi Weiss have apparently reached agreement that Rabbi Weiss would no longer confer the title of “Rabba” upon graduates of his women’s seminary, but rather the title “Maharat.”
This superficial move does not in any way change the position of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah that placing women in traditional rabbinic positions departs from the Jewish mesorah, and that any congregation with a woman in such a position cannot call itself Orthodox.
That the leadership of a respected rabbinical organization seems to have capitulated to Rabbi Weiss’ enterprise is deeply dismaying. We trust that this capitulation does not represent the perspective of the principled majority of the organization’s member rabbis.
Compare that with the statement from the Agudah’s R’ Avi Shafran of a year ago, when Hurwitz was ordained as a “Maharat”:
While the Haredi community certainly includes some very knowledgeable and learned women — among them greatly respected teachers and life-guides — Haredim don’t consider the role of rabbi or poseket (or any euphemism therefor) a particularly appropriate aspiration for a Jewish woman, particularly if it makes the woman a focus of men’s attention . To us, the highest aspiration a Jewish woman can have is to be the foundation of a Jewish family.
In the end, though, our community is not particularly exercised by Jews who feel differently, even if we think them misguided. There are greater challenges facing us all these days that more urgently merit our attention.