Statement of Agudath Israel of America

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novomisnker-rebbeAt Agudath Israel of America’s 92nd Anniversary Dinner earlier this week, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, who is a member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages and serves as the Rosh Agudath Israel, delivered remarks that have been grossly mischaracterized and unjustly vilified in certain media reports.

Most objectionable is the statement in The New York Times that “Rabbi Perlow offered a shower of condemnation for Reform and Conservative Jews.” He did nothing of the sort.

Rabbi Perlow’s focus was on Reform and Conservative Judaism, not on Reform and Conservative Jews – on ideologies, not on people. Indeed, the main focus of his remarks was on a movement that calls its Orthodox – “Open Orthodoxy” – yet has also crossed boundaries that have long established the parameters of normative Jewish practice and belief.

Rabbi Perlow was simply reiterating what Agudath Israel leaders have been stating since the founding of the organization nearly a century ago, and what painful demographic realities have made increasingly clear in recent years: that there is no Jewish future in ideological movements that have abandoned foundation principles of the Judaism of the ages.

Rabbi Perlow, and the community of Orthodox Jews who look to him as a leader, have nothing but love and concern for all Jews, regardless of their affiliation, regardless of how misled they may be by their religious leaders.

Precisely because of such love and concern, Agudath Israel believes that it is incumbent upon those who care about their fellow Jews and the Jewish future to call attention to the dangers of deviation from classical Judaism, to prevent what Rabbi Perlow referred to as Jews “fall[ing] into an abyss of intermarriage and assimilation.” Such clarion calls are heartfelt expressions of Ahavas Yisrael, love for fellow-Jews, not its opposite Heaven forbid!

How to ensure the Jewish future is the most important challenge on the collective Jewish agenda today. We hope and pray that all the attention generated by Rabbi Perlow’s remarks will motivate serious people of good will and genuine Ahavas Yisroel to begin to confront that challenge, urgently and responsibly.

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  1. Well said.

    The honest question is how much deviation can “Orthodoxy” tolerate before it become hypocritical? How much deviation can be tolerated to remain Jewish? Mixed seating and driving to synagogue ok? But not determining Judaism through the Father? What about declaring faith in Torah and Oto HaIsh? Which variant from following halacha letter and spirit is ok. Judaism is a big tent and can tolerate diversity of Chassidim, Misnagdim, National Religious, Modern, Sefradim and Charedim all claim fidelity to Hashem and His Torah. But to step beyond those parameters that ideology should be called out for what it is and is not.

  2. The Yated has been warning people for the past few years about the dangers of Open Othodoxy and its so called Yeshiva Chovivei Torah.

  3. Like anyone cares what he “really was saying”

    If you “care” how the media spins things there is only one way to avoid it – DON’T SAY IT!

  4. Watered down, user friendly “Judaism” doesn’t work. Cases in point: The Conservative and Reform synagogues in Lakewood folded and their buildings are now filled with the kol Torah of BMG yeshivaleit. The once thriving Conservative synagogue in Long Branch, NJ now houses the Sefardic Kollel. (There are more examples, but I won’t list them now.)

  5. it’s time for someone to write a list of names and addresses of shuls that contain within them partnship minyan practices so we can all know where not to walk into to daven…even to catch a mincha. After all sometimes these shuls only have partnership minyan activities at some minyanim and not at other ones in the same locations…so we need to lay down the red line of where we must not step


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