New York – Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school appears to be withholding semichah next month from a student who participated in a “partnership minyan,” in which women lead certain elements of the Shabbos davening, The Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt reports.
A source close to the case said the issue was not about participation in the service. Rather, it hinged on whether the student was willing to acknowledge that he should consult with his rabbinic authorities before participating in a minyan that is not acceptable to traditional halachic authorities.
While YU does not revoke semicha from its RIETS, graduates, the student in question is, in effect, in limbo. He has completed his five years of classes and tests, but he has not been conferred with semichah.
In a letter to the RIETS student, due to receive ordination at YU’s Chag Ha Semicha ordination ceremony March 23, Rabbi Menachem Penner, acting dean of RIETS, asserted that “not all individuals given the title of ‘rabbi’ are entitled to serve as decisors of Jewish law.” The letter says this is “especially true when breaking new ground in areas unforeseen to earlier generations or when taking public stances on matters of Jewish law that are in opposition to all recognized aposkim [halachic decisors].”
The RIETS student in question, who asked to remain anonymous at this point, told The Jewish Week that his intention had been to have a one-time partnership minyan in his home so that his wife, who had been ill, could be called to the Torah and recite a blessing of gratitude after her recovery.