Open Orthodoxy and the Rebirth of the Conservative Movement


avrohom-gordimerBy Avrohom Gordimer

The Matzav readership is all too familiar with discussion about Open Orthodoxy; every nook and cranny of Open Orthodoxy could be explored with a critical eye through numerous articles on the subject, spanning a lengthy period of time.

Once the major issues of Open Orthodoxy had been fully brought to the table, it was decided that our focus and energy should be directed elsewhere, as the Orthodox public assumedly had been presented with enough information about Open Orthodoxy to be well-informed, if not saturated. More discussion about Open Orthodoxy seemed moot, and it was hoped and supposed that Open Orthodox leadership would constructively utilize the criticisms to recalibrate the movement’s trajectory onto a more normative path.

However, we were dead wrong, for as we turned our attention away, the nature and magnitude of the challenges presented by Open Orthodoxy increased beyond imagination. Over the past several months, the intellectual leadership of Open Orthodoxy openly embraced highly problematic positions regarding the origins of Torah She-b’al Peh; Open Orthodox rabbis around the United States engaged in new, more radical types of interfaith and interdenominational endeavors that could make one’s hair stand on end; and much more.

It was decided, as per the advice of senior rabbinic authorities, to issue a comprehensive article on the above recent and current issues, feeling that the larger Orthodox public must be aware of these startling developments, as Orthodoxy is now truly at a crossroads. This article would be intended for hard-copy journal publication, and would include a composite of all of the issues to consider, new and old. In light of the fact that Open Orthodoxy is successfully and rapidly placing its graduating rabbis in Orthodox shuls and schools across the country, bringing a different type of Orthodoxy to communities heretofore unfamiliar with it, and in light of the currently unfolding nature of several of the critical issues at hand, it was decided to release the article early as an online publication.

With K’lal Yisroel presently facing so many challenges – Hashem yishmor – we felt compelled to hold off and not post anything about Open Orthodoxy for the time being. In the midst of fervent tefillah and grave concern for our brethren in Eretz Yisroel and our soldiers in Gaza, we deemed it inappropriate to post about most other issues, and publication of this article was hence delayed for almost a month. However, in light of the acute spiritual challenges faced by Orthodoxy which are presented in the article – challenges that continue and increase irrespective of whatever else is happening in the world – it was realized that delaying publication further would not serve us well and would engender even more serious challenges, as actions and attitudes that threaten to profoundly impact the fabric and character of Orthodoxy are at the door, ready to enter, and cannot be left unaddressed.

Please read this article and consider the very potential far-reaching ramifications of the recent actions and current path of Open Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Gordimer is a kashrus professional, a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Cross Currents

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  1. Wow. Rabbi Gordimer, as usual kol hakavod. So much I could say about this but I’ll limit it to this point: if anyone has issues about the timing, as we’re seeing an amazing sense of unity (and I include you, Mayor Bloomberg) all anyone has to do is scroll down to p. 12, footnote 47 for some sobering thoughts as to how some of the movement view Israel and its current war.

    YCT graduates are not just assuming pulpits but are teaching in Orthodox schools. The parent body of those schools may or may not be reading Matzav. Hopefully they will read this article in other sources, because they deserve full clarity.

  2. Open Orthodoxy and other radical reformers are far more dangerous to klal Yisrael than Yair Lapid and all his anti-Torah cronies put together because they are undermining us from within and their rebellious causes are given more credence in the media, Jewish and secular, because they are “prominent Orthodox rabbis”. Whereas the Lapids of this world are obviously “wolves” out to destroy Torah in Eretz Yisrael, the real wolves are garbed in sheep’s clothing which masks their true destructive nature and enables them to wreak more havoc on our precious mesora. They are our generation’s eruv rav, narcissistic wannabes, bent on undermining our real gedolim by foisting their warped self serving agendas onto secularly influenced (brainwashed?) Yidden whose chinuch, emuna and yiras shamayim are too weak to resist their radical ideas.
    Let us hope and pray that these radical wolves will be silenced b’karov and that torah and mitzvos will once again reign supreme, unchallenged by renegades and unsullied by the agenda of the goyishe veldt.

  3. excellent article like his other articles.I just have one “BIG” question.Avi weiss is still a member of the rca. Lo hamderash ikur elah hamaaseh.Why are all the choshuva rabbonim including rabbi gordimer still a member of the rca together with avi weiss. Either kick him out or resign. practice what u preach. Until then all the articles mean nothing.

  4. every time this type of article is written my comment is never approved . you are just at fault not interested in emes but just looking to make a tumul.

  5. While we believe the farther from Sinai we are, the lower madreiga we are on, they believe the farther we are from evolution, the greater we become.

  6. Someone got it right. Good for you! I was disappointed that a more detailed analogy was not presented about the close corresponence between incipient OO and incipient “Conservative” Judaism. The CJs claimed they were entirely within halakhic mode, and all others were intellectually shallow and a key reason for the alienation of millions of Jews from Halakhah. All of this began with Haskalah.
    The bombast re Sotah by the OO Chief Poseq should convince anyone that they are an opportunistic, devious, spiritually weak and distorted gang. Goebbels and Stalin would sign them on in a flash.

  7. #2 is correct regarding the RCA. Talk is cheap. If members are going to talk the talk, then they need to walk the walk. It’s time to kick Rabbi Weiss out, period and end of story.

  8. Please make it available as a PDF so that those of us who can’t read an entire article on scribd, for whatever reason, can also read it.

  9. Arguably,OO is more radical even than the Conservatives were prior to the early ’80s,and more dangerous.

    We could potentially debate all day who is more dangerous and insidious
    It’s awfully close..

  10. I agree with you emes. It seems that has buckled under some pressure, being forced NOT to post THE EMES. My posts were always posted, until recently. The Emes (TRUTH) must really HURT!!!!!!

  11. I want to preface my comments with appreciation to Rabbi Gordimer for writing this fantastic expose and to Matzav for posting it. That being said, I find it a bit disingenuous for Rabbi Gordimer to spend 23 pages on YCT and not use a single line to examine his own organization’s relationship with Avi Weiss. For once and for all, the RCA needs to come clean about Avi Weiss’ standing within the organization. I and many others that I know will not step foot in an RCA/OU synagogue until this matter is dealt with unequivocally. When you have the executive vp of the organization calling this rasha “a person committed to halacha” and “a person of integrity”, you lend credence to his movement and the actions of his musmachim. Mark Dratch needs to step down, as do all others who support Avi Weiss. Or perhaps the more Torah-true rabbis among the RCA should form their own organization, or join the Agudah?

    Rabbi Gordimer, your first priority should be to clean your own house…Give your organization an ultimatum – denounce Rabbi Weiss and YCT in terms that can not be misinterpreted, or you leave. Worried you’re going to lose a paycheck? Too bad! This is Kavod HaTorah!

    Call them what they are – the right-wing arm of the Conservative movement. Completely treif, a chazer pointing to it’s split hooves.