By Rabbi Dov Fischer
Today, on November 19, 2014, I attended the regularly scheduled bi-monthly meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Rabbinical Council of America in my capacity as a fifth-year member of the RCA’s NEC, now in my second term. Although I will not disclose here anything else discussed at that meeting, I write to say that the NEC and its officers — including RCA President Leonard Matanky and RCA immediate Past President Shmuel Goldin and RCA National Director Mark Dratch — explicitly and expressly confirmed to the entire NEC that the statement published by the Jewish Week regarding Rabbi Pruzanky’s status on the NEC is absolutely false. Absolutely no one — not a single person in the entire RCA — is calling for Rav Pruzansky’s “removal from the Executive Committee.” It is absolutely a lie, an outright published falsehood, explicitly confirmed in public as a lie less than one hour ago. I heard this with my own ears, in the presence of 40 of my rabbinical colleagues, straight from Rabbis Matanky and Goldin.
Look, let’s face it: there are millions among 300 milion Americans calling for Barack Obama’s impeachment. All it takes is 1 percent of Americans to want him impeached, and you have 3 million calls for impeachment. And, if the Jewish Week absolutely must pursue this deeply troubling line of inquiry and reportage, there obviously are scores of members of Rabbinical Council of America calling for Rabbi Matansky’s immediate resignation as President of RCA. As an RCA NEC member, I get emails and phone calls like that: “Is there any way we get him to resign or to impeach him?” But, for goodness sakes, come on: Honestly, is that news? Is it honestly worth a Jewish Week news story that scores of members of Rabbinical Council of America presently want Rabbi Leonard Matanky to resign as President of RCA because of a wide range of matters — not least of which certain judgment decisions made regarding the Washington D.C. mikveh matter over the past two years — that have happened within and outside RCA during his 18-month tenure, on his watch and within his ambit? Or that more than 100 members of RCA have endorsed a demand that he retract a personal attack against another RCA member? I don’t think so. I don’t think it is anybody’s business. Rather, that is what happens when you get the proverbial two Jews alone in a room. Two Jews, three opinions.
A thousand rabbis — I cannot even begin to contemplate the number of opinions. Just learn an amud of shas, and see all the opinions. Doesn’t Abe Foxman, revered as he is, have detractors within ADL? Doesn’t Mort Klein within ZOA? This is the way of Jewish organizations. Frankly, this is the way of democratically governed bodies.
As a matter of fairness and honesty, it would be the right thing for Jewish Week and its editor publicly to apologize to Rabbi Pruzansky and to acknowledge errors in its report. Not a single RCA person — beginning with its present President and its immediate Past President, and continuing through 40 rabbonim who attended today’s regularly scheduled bi-monthly meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America — ever has heard even a whisper or intimation questioning Rav Pruzansky’s special status as one of the RCA’s most prominent and respected national leaders, and certainly nothing along the lines of the Jewish Week’s report. This was stated openly and forthrightly.
Finally, it was reported at today’s NEC meeting that RCA previously had sent an internal stinging rebuke of Rabbi Avi Weiss — according to what we were told, far more stinging and far more accusatory, with the ultimate condemnation that was one step short of convening a full Membership-Expulsion Committee (Vaad HaKovod) — to the entire RCA membership. I do not remember ever seeing that report in the Jewish Week.
Rabbi Dov Fischer
Rav, Young Israel of Orange County, CA
Adj. Prof. of Advanced Torts Law, UCI Law School
Adj. Prof. of Advanced Torts Law, Loyola Law School
Member, National Executive Committee, RCA
Former Chief Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review