RCA President Denies Report That Avi Weiss Will Be Expelled


avi-weissIn a report by Debrah Nussbaum Cohen in The Forward, the president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Moshe Kletenik, denied a story in The New York Jewish Week that the RCA was considering expelling Rabbi Avi Weiss for giving semichah to a woman, Sara Hurwitz.  

 “There is no basis to the rumor,” Kletenik wrote in an e-mail to the Forward.

Avi Weiss’ activities over the last couple of years – including policies of his school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and his introduction of “Open Orthodoxy” – have been covered extensively here on Matzav.com (see here, here and here).

Weiss’ activities and attempts at adulterating Orthodoxy were first exposed in the mainstream chareidi media in a series of articles beginning in February 2007 in the national newspaper Yated Ne’eman, published out of Monsey, NY.  

Just last month, Weiss declared that Hurwitz will now be known as “rabbah” rather than MaHaRat, a term that had been created on her behalf. Hurwitz, who has been performing rabbinical duties at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City, last year had been given the title of MaHaRat, a Hebrew acronym that stands for a leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters.

But in a statement issued in January, Weiss, who serves as the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute and Hurwitz’s mentor, said the acronym had failed to take hold and that Hurwitz would henceforth be called “rabbah,” a feminized version of the title “rabbi.”

“This will make it clear to everyone that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice,” said statement issued by Weiss’ office at the time.

This past week, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of America condemned Weiss for his actions.

“Contemporary Orthodoxy has decided that this is not appropriate,” Rabbi Michael Broyde, a dayan in the Beth Din of America, the RCA’s rabbinic court, and a professor of law at Emory University, was quoted as saying by The Forward. “It is outside the bounds of normative Orthodox Jewish practice.”

Broyde emphasized that he was not speaking on behalf of the Beth Din of America.

Broyde himself published an article in The Jewish Press last July saying that though they ought not be given the title of “rabbi,” Orthodox women should be trained as clergy.

The RCA and Weiss are expected to be able to go public with some mutually acceptable resolution shortly, according to a source close to the RCA who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Forward.

“I think they’ll work something out amicably,” said Rabbi Marc Angel, a former president of the RCA and a leading Orthodox liberal who is a longtime friend of Weiss.

The RCA has not issued any public statement about the issue, and Weiss did not return calls seeking comment. The RCA’s executive vice president, Rabbi Basil Herring, also did not respond to multiple requests for comment by The Forward.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. probably were going to expell him, that is until they saw that Moetzes condemned him. Then they decided he could stick around after all.