The following letter was written by Rabbi Joshua Maroof to Rabbi Avi Weiss and Ms. Sara Hurwitz this past Friday, Erev Shabbos Parshas Devorim, August 5. We present it here as a follow-up to Matzav.com‘s continuing comprehensive coverage of Weiss’ efforts to expand what he calls “Open Orthodoxy,” as well as Rabbi Maroof’s efforts to explain his alleged past involvement in Yeshivat Maharat and his application for acceptance into the RCA.
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Rabbi Weiss,It has been a great honor for me to partner with you in promoting the importance of serious Torah study for women. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities you gave me to participate in the advancement of this worthy cause, as well as for your friendship and support in general.
Unfortunately, however, my participation in the Maharat Conferral Ceremony a few years ago has been misconstrued by many as a tacit endorsement of beliefs and opinions that go far beyond what I ever meant to support – ideas that I, in reality, strongly oppose. As you know, I do not identify with the Open Orthodox ideology in any way, shape or form, and I never have felt comfortable with it or endorsed it.
I admire your efforts in furthering the cause of women’s Torah study, and I highly value and respect the accomplishments and character of Sara Hurwitz in particular. However, notwithstanding my personal feelings of respect and appreciation for you, I do not wish to be associated with Open Orthodoxy or its various institutions, nor do I wish to be misunderstood as approving of either the ordination of women as Rabbis or any other controversial initiatives in the past, present or future with which I may strongly disagree.
I am, and have always been, Centrist Orthodox, and I crossed “party lines” to lend my support to the cause of women’s learning. I remain an outspoken and steadfast supporter of the right of Orthodox women to study and teach Torah at the highest levels of which they are capable. I stand behind all that I said and all that I have written to this effect.
I naively believed that my actions would be evaluated independently of the context in which they were taken. I assumed that the nuances of my position would be acknowledged and appreciated. I did not anticipate that my participation in the Maharat Conferral Ceremony would be seen as a blanket endorsement of ideas or agendas that were far beyond the limit of what I intended to support.
I made every effort to correct the false impressions that were created in the wake of these events. However, it seems that as long as my name continues to be associated with Yeshivat Maharat at any level, I will continue to be misunderstood as having abandoned the principles and tenets of Centrist Orthodoxy, which I most definitely have not. And as Open Orthodoxy forges ahead, I fear being unfairly held responsible for future actions, decisions and pronouncements that do not reflect my beliefs or convictions at all. Perusing the “Morethodoxy” website and other media outlets and observing the trends within this movement has reinforced my concerns about this.
For this reason, with great sadness, I must respectfully ask that my name be completely removed from the Yeshivat Maharat website, as well as from any places on the HIR website where it is referenced in connection with the 2009 conferral ceremony.
Please understand that this request does not represent a retraction of anything that I have said or done in the past. Indeed, I stand behind the content of my speech at the ceremony as well as my responsum, which was of a general nature and not tied to any situation, individual or institution in particular.
Nonetheless, the mistaken impressions generated from my association with this event have obscured the public’s perception of my commitment to the tenets of Centrist Orthodoxy, and I feel obligated to remove all doubt as to where I stand hashkafically and halakhically.
Rabbi Joshua Maroof
Magen David Sephardic Congregation
11215 Woodglen Drive
Rockville, MD 20852