“Open Orthodoxy”: Student of Chovevei Torah’s Yeshivat Maharat to Join Leadership at Montreal Synagogue


congregation-shaar-hashomayim-montrealCongregation Shaar Hashomayim, a Modern Orthodox shul in Montreal, has announced that it is appointing 32-year-old Rachel Finegold as “director of education and spiritual enrichment” at the shul effective August 1. Among her duties will be speaking “periodically” from the pulpit, leading Torah text classes and visiting the sick and elderly, as well as developing programs for youth and young families.

Finegold is one of three women who will graduate in June from the “Open Orthodox” Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, NY, which was founded in 2009 by Rabbi Avi Weiss, who is also the founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

“Rachel’s appointment breaks exciting new ground for our congregation,” Shaar Hashomayim’s Rabbi Adam Scheier and president Joseph Paperman said in a newsletter to congregants. “It is consistent with the evolution of modern Orthodoxy.”

Rabbi Scheier’s wife, Abby Brown Scheier, is one of the other two soon-to-be Maharat graduates.

Shaar Hashomayim, located in Westmount congregation, has more than 1,400 families and is the largest synagogue in Montreal. Years ago, the synagogue was officially Conservative, but it is now described as following Modern Orthodoxy.

Finegold will use the term “Maharat,” acronym for “manhigah hilchatit ruchanit Toranit.” She will not be known as “Rabba.”

Finegold will move to Montreal with her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, and their two young daughters. For the past six years, Finegold has been serving as the education and ritual director of the Orthodox Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. Finegold is a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Journal.

Rabbi Scheier was quoted by the Canadian Jewish News as saying that “This has been part of an ongoing conversation at the Shaar: how to maximize the role of women within the bounds of Halachah. This is a major step… The Shaar is not officially affiliated with any movement, but it does follow Orthodox law, practice and teaching.”

Rabbi Scheier said that women at his synagogue can now speak from the pulpit and carry the Torah before the general congregation, and, at women’s services, read from the Torah, he said. They can also lead certain prayers, such as those for the State of Israel and the government of Canada, and deliver benedictions at Shabbos morning services.

Rabbi Scheier has been at Shaar Hashomayim since 2004, after graduating from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

The installation of Mrs. Finegold is the latest step in Chovevei Torah’s and Yeshivat Maharat’s efforts to reshape the Jewish community with its misguided Open Orthodox approach.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. WHY is this posted ???? FOR whom? OR is it just to give an opportunity for more rechilus, lashom hara and condemnation of other Jews?

  2. unfortunately, MATZAV is the only place online where you will read the truth of the damage of CHovevei Torah and Maharat.

    Give credit where credit is do.,

    and give credit to rabbi lipschitz and the yated newspaper for being the first in the community in general for bringing this issue to light. without them, these guys would be wreaking havoc all over the orthodox community without anyone even realizing

  3. Number 1:
    This site is generally considered a more right-leaning website, and just as it is important for the true Orthodox to be aware of missionaries trying to weasel their way into our lives, so too it behooves us to be very aware of the movements of those who choose to move away from true Torah Judaism.
    Weiss and his ilk are diluting Torah true Judaism no less than the Reform, and in a way are even more dangerous, as their constant claim is “we are Orthodox,” which anyone with one iota of Torah knowledge can debate and debunk.
    The reporting of this sham is a great service to the constituency of this website.
    And finally, I’m not sure what “lashom hara” is, but if you meant Lashon Harah – according to Halacha, it is perfectly permissible, and we are required to publicize the antics and shenanigans of those who would threaten the Torah and Halacha.
    Thank you Matzav.com. Good job.

  4. To Post # 1
    “rechilus, lashom hara and condemnation of other Jews”
    These Jews are unfortunately Apikorsim. Not only is there no Issur Lashon Harah, there’s a Mitzvah to expose these Jews.

  5. Learn your facts. Maharat and Chovevei Torah are not related in any way. They were founded by the same person, who as of July 1, 2013 will no longer be associated with Chovevei Torah. Stop spreading rechilus and Loshon Hara

  6. To comment 1. This is posted b/c we must speak out on the issues of the day and have authentic Torah values presented. Perhaps the influence of this movement has not perceptibly influenced your world yet, but thats only b/c of the blowback that it deserves. Edmund Burke famously said (not verbatim) “all that evil needs to flourish is for good people to do nothing” I would not say that Chovovei Torah (lashon sagi nahar) is evil but they are the Conservative Jews of the 50’s and we must speak up in defense of our mesorah. And its not a condemnation of “other Jews” its a condemnation of the pseudo Judaism they are trying to popularize.

  7. @1: It is neither loshen Horah nor rechilus to condemn heretics. Study chofetz Chaim/shmiras Haloshon.

    So modern orthodox is the new reform.

  8. Anonymous, this is the entertainment section of Matzav. With all that’s going on in Eretz Yisroel and the world, we need something to laugh at, so Matzav has kindly provided us with this joke.

    Once you translate Open Orthodox properly (ie I do what I want)their actions will concern you as much as the misguided Conservative and Reform. Lost children. May Moshiach come quickly and bring them back to the fold.

  9. # 1 , rechilus and loshin hora aren’t a problem here , so it’s probably just to condemn them. maybe also to warn the tzibbur that congregation shar hagihenom is not really a normal orthodox shul.

  10. While we need not condemn other Jews, we sometimes need to disapprove of practices – particularly those that infringe upon Torah-true beliefs and policies.

    If the intent is to bring women closer to Torah and mitzvos, that would be honorable. But when the goal is “how to maximize the role of women within the bounds of Halachah,” there is what to dispute.

    The undertone is that Classic Orthodox mores do not allow women to “maximize” their potential. In order to do that, they must be allowed to behave in ways that heretofore have been reserved for men. This viewpoint is sad.

    My kollel-wife sisters-in-law in Lakewood are maximizing their potential, without the need or desire to read from a Sefer Torah in public.

  11. Protesting a public violation of the Torah (Open “Orthodoxy”) is NOT “rechilus, lashom hara, and condemnation of other Jews.”

    Study the rules of Shmiras HaLoshon, before you call something Rechilus or Loshon Hara.

    This congregation is still “Conservative,” no matter what it calls itself.

  12. When the CHOFETZ CHAIM put out a public PROCLAMATION denouncing a certain rabbi
    there were those who protested just as no. 1

    The Chofetz Chaim responded he was well aware of what he was forbidden to say (he wrote the book)

  13. Rav Felder of Philadelphia humourously related ,he was once walking past the aforementioned `Shaar Hashomayim’ during summer

    The bilboard stated in big terms



  14. So…let me get this straight. A shul goes from Conservative to Modern Orthodox. That means more shmiras shabbos, more taharas hamishpochoh, more kashers, more Torah. Do you guys have any idea how different Modern Orthodox is from Conservative in terms of shmiras hamitzvos? Kerochok mizroch mimaarov! The fact that you can’t appreciate this step shows that you just feel threatened that there is, and has always been, a legitimate alternative to being charedi. Have some class, and some confidence, and instead of all your negativity, say, “Hatzlochah on your journey, fellow Yidden! And may you soon see the pure light of the Torah-true derech.”

  15. The rabbi of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim attended the installation ceremony of reform “rabbi” Lisa Grushcow who is publicly living as a couple with another woman!What’s worse, he invited her to speak at a continuing education class at his shul! Rabbi Scheier is a member in good standing of the RCC (Rabbinical Council of Canada), a group of modern orthodox rabbis in Montreal. How they allow him to remain in the RCC boggles the mind.

  16. To me it makes no difference if they call themselves Conservative or Modern Orthodox. It is the same thing. (as Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet – conservative by any other name would stink as bad.)

  17. #21- MORDY- One gets the feeling that you would have wanted to be there. That you feel so threatened by something or someone different from you means that you are insecure your belief and connection to Torah, Yahadus and the Ribbono Shel Olam.

  18. #25-Sheldon, You are 100% wrong in thinking I would have wanted to be there. I am condemning the rabbi for acknowledging this reform woman “rabbi” as legitimate, and you think I would want to attend? I am very secure in my connection to Hashem and the Torah. On the contrary, I am standing up for Hashem and His Torah by denouncing this orthodox rabbi who acknowledges a reform woman rabbi living with another woman as a bona fide rabbi. If you are truly orthodox Sheldon, your anger should be directed to this rabbi for making a breach in orthodox Judaism.

  19. Where is the Montreal MK on this issue, they allow weddings there all the time?

    Finegolds husband learned in Yeshiva Gedola of MOntreal

  20. Decency is a special attribute of the hope of the generations. Maharats are not the real hope of our people. If you want to be a Maharat and you can find no hope as a jewish woman in any other area, perhaps our people can help you in some capacity as you have a mental affliction and are unable to comprehend the life of a Torah based religion. I do not think that we are helping our future with women in permissive roles and I do think that our poverty is the world of unassumed neglected fortunes. If you are smart enough to be a “maharat”, why didn’t you go to college and use your True Torah Values to exert change in the world as a journalist, an educator, a first rate physician or anything else? I am sure that your mind must be blessed but your plan is not with the satisfaction of the years of Torah.

  21. For the sake of Torah and in defense of Jewish tradition we all have to speak up!

    Modern orthodoxy in its essence is part of the very same components that are included in all enemies of Jewish tradition. It considers by defacto rather than by conviction that Judaism is “flawed” in its traditional form. This dangerous attitude has been tolerated by more religious Jews for the sake of Kiruv and Jewish unity, however their open door and apparent acceptance has lead to this point of experiments and rebellious attitudes. The time has come to put a stop to this contradiction called “modern orthodox”. Judaism allows the use of technology,we believe in progress that modernity brings to our commodity and convenience HOWEVER,values, principles and duties are not time bound neither negotiable in our faith. Many religions have change with the times because in their essence they found flaws in their foundations. Modern orthodoxy pretends to give this same atmosphere to Judaism ans as such….news like this will become (sadly) more prevalent. Once the fence around the Torah is open….there will be no stopping! Hashem Yirachem

  22. ?  [?] ????? ?? ???? ????, ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ????–???? ??????? ?????, ???????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ?????:  ????? “???? ????? ?? ?????” (????? ??,??).

    ?  ?????? ?? ????–??? ?????? ????? ?????, ??? ?????? ????? ???? ?????–???? ??????? ???? ???? ????, ????? ?? ???? ?????? ???, ??????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ??????, ??????? ???? ????? ???.  ?? ???? ????, ????; ??? ???, ????? ??? ????? ???????.