Israel’s Chief Rabbinate: Rabbi Avi Weiss’ Commitment to Halacha ‘Questionable’

Thursday January 2, 2014 6:16 PM - 10 Comments

avi-weissThe Chief Rabbinate of Israel has stated that due to American Rabbi Avi Weiss’ “questionable” commitment to Jewish Law, it has decided not to accept letters from him attesting to the personal status of his congregation members who seek to immigrate to Israel or get married in the country, until the matter is clarified.

This is the first time the Rabbinate provides reasons for its strict attitude towards Weiss and other liberal rabbis affiliated with the Orthodox community.

In a response to the religious-Zionist Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah movement, which has been supporting Rabbi Weiss’ struggle for recognition by the Chief Rabbinate, the Rabbinate said it had received testimonies from well-known rabbis in the United States, some of whom are member of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), that Weiss’ halachic opinions - reflected in different incidents and circumstances - “cast doubt on the level of his commitment to the customary and acceptable Jewish Halacha.”

The Rabbinate’s legal advisor, attorney Harel Goldberg, wrote to attorney Assaf Benmelech, the movement’s representative, that the Chief Rabbinate was looking into the American rabbis’ claims against Weiss. Until the matter is clarified, Weiss’ congregants have been asked to obtain certificates on their Jewishness or personal status from other rabbis.

Goldberg added that should the Rabbinate seek to “disqualify” the Rabbi Weiss, the examination’s findings would be brought to his review and he would be able to comment on them.

“We must not ignore the difficulty facing Rabbinate representatives, who are required to check hundreds of rabbis across the world’s Jewish Diaspora, whose certificates have been submitted to the authorized elements in Israel for the purpose of registering a couple for marriage,” attorney Goldberg wrote.

He noted that the Rabbinate was checking and cross-checking information with rabbis it trusted who were capable of testifying about colleagues seeking recognition.

“The Rabbinate examines whether the rabbi who signed the submitted certificate indeed serves as the rabbi of an Orthodox congregation, how he was certified as a rabbi and the level of his commitment to Halacha, in order to ensure that the Judaism certificates he issues can be trusted,” the lawyer wrote. “The Chief Rabbinate believes that it is not enough for a rabbi to identify himself as Orthodox in order for the Judaism certificates he issues to his congregants to be recognized.”

The legal advisor clarified in his letter that the Rabbinate recognizes Judaism certificates issued by a very wide variety of rabbis, but that it cannot do so when its representatives are convinced that a rabbi’s halachic perception, lifestyle or the way he leads his congregation deviate from the acceptable Orthodox framework.

Weiss, who leads a large community in northern New York, has been waging in recent weeks a public battle against the Rabbinate, which he says has stopped recognizing him and his colleagues over their liberal worldview. His protest has reached the Knesset, and he also plans to petition the High Court of Justice with the help of prominent Jewish American lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Weiss is known as the founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah for the ordination of rabbis and Yeshivat Maharat, which is the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy.

One of the symbols of his permissive worldview is his definition of a woman graduating from Yeshivat Maharat as a “rabba” - as the Reform and Conservative do - rather than as a “rabbanit.”

Read more at Ynet.

{Matzav.com}

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10 Responses to “Israel’s Chief Rabbinate: Rabbi Avi Weiss’ Commitment to Halacha ‘Questionable’”

1. Comment from Anonym.
Time January 2, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Very glad to read this. This ‘rabbi’ has been getting away with wearing the mask as an orthodox Rabbi but leads his congregation like a left-wing conservative or outright reform rabbi. He seems determined to change Torah and mesorah. Our sages predicted that there will be many like him in this pre-Moshiach era (usually referred to as erev rav).

2. Comment from Staff
Time January 2, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Is the Camp Agudah reunion this Motzei Shabbos still on schedule?

3. Comment from Hiyyavrom
Time January 2, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Bout time. All of us not privileged to live in observant communities all have horror tales of “rabbis” who facilitated strange conversions and went to questionable lengths to interact with the non-Orthodox. What the does Avi Weiss think hashgakhah means, beyond salami and marshmallows? What Dershowitz thinks does not matter, and it might signal a lot about Weiss that he enlists such an ally. I cannot recall a time when he was not regarded as one of “vild” antics. We waited far too long too boot those who kept on screaming their orthodoxy.

4. Comment from Plain Daas
Time January 2, 2014 at 7:41 PM

Why bother even mention this rashas name sr”y. you just pump up this loser even more and give him more attention. He is a reformer despite what he calls himself.

5. Comment from chaimz
Time January 2, 2014 at 8:20 PM

New meaning to the word questionable.

6. Comment from somebody
Time January 2, 2014 at 8:33 PM

just the fact that he chose dershowitz as his lawyer emphasizes weiss’ lack of respect for torah. dershowitz started out as a son and grandson of a prominent frum family. today he is kofer b’ikar and no authentic yeshiva should want him as its spokesman

7. Comment from L. Oberstein
Time January 2, 2014 at 9:00 PM

A Rabbanit is a Rebbetzin, she occupies no formal spiritual role. Rabba Sara Hurwitz is a member of the clergy of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale,she makes speechs, answers halachic questions and teaches many classes and also does everything else a pulpit rabbi does except lead the davening or read the Torah. This is not in question. However, does that mean that the testimony of Avi Weiss is not trustworthy. It depends on how you define orthodox. Matzav’s readers may have a different definition than those in Riverdale, but Avi Weiss believes in Torah Min hashamayim and taryag mitzvos.

8. Comment from Hudy
Time January 3, 2014 at 10:54 AM

“The Rabbinate examines whether the rabbi who signed the submitted certificate indeed serves as the rabbi of an Orthodox congregation, how he was certified as a rabbi and the level of his commitment to Halacha, in order to ensure that the Judaism certificates he issues can be trusted,” the lawyer wrote. “The Chief Rabbinate believes that it is not enough for a rabbi to identify himself as Orthodox in order for the Judaism certificates he issues to his congregants to be recognized.”

B”H

9. Comment from Dear Oberstein
Time January 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Dear Oberstein (#7)
If in Riverdale or Prague, New York or Brazil, Australia or Jerusalem, The Torah is not up for change, refigure, revise, or reform.

If you want to change the Torah according to your view you are a reformist or in plain english a Reform Jew.

Ani Mamin Sh’zois Hatorah Lo Sehay Mechlaifes.
I believe the torah will not be changes.
Is one of the 13 “Ani Mamins” if you dont believe in these you are a “Apikorus”.

Very Simple!
Thank You

10. Comment from Herr Dokter.
Time January 5, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Oberstein,

A) Your observation about Rabbanit vs. Rabba should be directed at ynet, that is who made the observation. That is not the concern that the RCA or other halachic organizations have with Ms. Hurovits.

B) Whether Weiss’ is truly a ma’amin is very much in question, his protest ions notwithstanding. If he appoints an open apikorus to teach in his rabbinic yeshiva and to head the vaad hagiyur of his IRF, it would seem that Emunah is not the basis of yiddishkeit for him. Thus what he means when he says he believes is really doubtful if it is not central.

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