Open Orthodoxy’s Name Change: New Brand, Same Product

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By Avrohom Gordimer

Two decades after having effectively declared itself a new movement, Open Orthodoxy has announced that it is changing its name. “Open Orthodoxy” will now refer to itself as “Modern Orthodoxy”.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) – the flagship seminary of Open Orthodoxy – explained this unexpected name change:

“We want to focus on the important work we are doing in the Orthodox community and beyond … rather than focus on a label that … has become a distraction.”    

When public figures speak about issues “becoming a distraction”, it usually means that they are engaging in damage control. And this is no different.

For the past two decades, Open Orthodoxy has introduced and embraced countless hair-raising innovations, such that each new innovation further evidenced the fact that this movement was not Orthodox by any stretch. As one commenter remarked, “It reminds me of an open marriage”. Orthodoxy, whose definition signifies strict adherence to tradition, cannot be paired with progressive secular values and practices. An Orthodoxy which is open to incorporation with that which is antithetical to its essence ceases to be Orthodoxy.

A mere perusal of Rabbi David Rosethal’s book on the subject leaves no doubt about the non-Orthodox character and trajectory of Open Orthodoxy. The broader Orthodox community is well aware of the problems, and has largely responded by shunning Open Orthodoxy. Hence the need for Open Orthodoxy to change its name, in a quest to shed its negative image.

But now that Open Orthodoxy is rebranding itself and clearly seeks to identify with a more mainstream label, we must ask what this means:

The obvious answer to all of the above is No. These and numerous other controversial practices manifest what makes Open Orthodoxy unique, as Torah and secular progressive values are melded into a concoction that begets all types of deviant and radical outcomes. When the Torah is filtered through the unholy mesh of secular progressive values, and one identifies with those values, the result is something quite at odds with the Torah.

One commenter who read several halachic responsa of senior Open Orthodox leaders remarked that, “It reads as if the goal is see how much they can get away with.” It is sad, but when outside values dictate one’s approach to Judaism, this is the impression that is created.

On the verse of “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Devarim 6:5), Rashi cites the interpretation of the Sifri: “’With all your heart’ – (implying) that your heart not be in disagreement with God.” This means that one must espouse and embrace the Torah’s values. It is not enough to be in technical compliance with Halacha; one must love and cherish the attitudes and positions of the Torah as God presented them.

We conclude with the timeless words of Rav Yosef Dov Ha-Levi Soloveitchik zt”l of RIETS regarding Torah values in contemporary society:

“We must not yield – I mean emotionally, it is very important – we must not feel inferior, experience or develop an inferiority complex, and because of that complex yield to the charm – usually it is a transient and passing charm – of modern political and ideological sevoros (rationales). I say not only not to compromise – certainly not to compromise – but even not to yield emotionally, not to feel inferior, not to experience an inferiority complex. The thought should never occur that it is important to cooperate just a little bit with the modern trend or with the secular modern philosophy. In my opinion, Yahadus (Judaism) does not have to apologize … to the modern woman … There is no need for apology – we should have pride in our Masorah, in our heritage. And of course certainly it goes without saying that one must not try to compromise with these cultural trends and one must not try to gear the halachic norm to the transient ways of a neurotic society, which is what our society is.”

This is the authentic Torah/Orthodox approach, my friends. It is unfortunate that the Rav’s words are so foreign and removed from the ideology of Open Orthodoxy, by whatever name it goes.

This article originally appeared on Arutz Sheva.


  1. Jews for J, Jewish Messianics, etc. attempt to entice Jews to leave Judaism by calling their movements Jewish. Open Orthodoxy is now simply taking a page from the other enemies of yiddishkeit.

  2. Stop attacking other jews! I’m Tired of your articles. Droves are leaving ‘orthodox ‘ and many of those who hang on are frustrated with how boring and routine it is. See how many take out their cell phones at events, parlor meeting, or any time the rabbi speak . Unfortunately the yeshhiva world is stuck in the the 1930’s. I’m Glad open/modern is shaking things up. This writer would be so out of place in meah shearim, new square, boro park, most of monsey and so on. The article writer is ‘modern’ to many ‘ultra orthdox ‘.
    Maybe a protest in front of his house on Shabbos will change his mind.

    • If you have a problem with these articles, step away sir, and do your thing.
      Nothing and no one will stop to please your agenda.We are the proud warriors for halacha and orthodoxy as dictated, not by your desires and inclusion of all, but by the mesora handed down to us through the mellenia from our parents and grandparents, rabbis scholars, tanaim amoraim and the like.
      Take your tradition, or lack if it, to your fellow friends who distort and corrupt the word of Hashem. Please don’t “BORE US” with your progressive mindset and secular values …it is YOU who confuse people on the fringe about the beauty of tradition and enticement of better things.
      There is no more peace and serenity than limits being set, as G-d in his infinite wisdom has forseen.He has eliminated the (too many) choices for us from our lives by setting up a system of rules, not to DENY US, BUT TO FREE US.
      Your LIMITED MIND obviously cannot comprehend the beauty in that and needs readjustment .
      We all have choices in life.Take yours and DON’T DENY ME MINE.
      Find a site that pleases your palate and leave well enough alone for us who desire to obey the rule of G-d in its fullest form.
      Being Elul now, it would be wise that you educate yourself with clarity about our disparity. …
      And if you chose a path that happens to clash with others, walk on by…and mind your own.
      We are not going anywhere.
      We are not leaving.
      We are what keeps yiddishkeit alive.
      We are the holders of the torch, while you are burning the place down.
      The only thing is, you don’t realize that the smoke is suffocating you!
      There will be no response if you choose a rebuttal, as we are guided not to argue with people such as yourself.
      May Hashem open your sleepy eyes and bring clarity and true vision into your path …
      A gut gebencht yur to you.

    • to yeshivah toasted. nobody does g-d a favor by keeping his torah. we’re not attacking other jews . see mes shabbos. rightious jews pay penelty when they dont vihemently protest the destroyers of torah Aka churbin, sp inq, holocst etc.Also i dont know whats your problem. you have your reform conservative etc so join them . We have our 4 parts of jewish code of law , so whats your proble these new hretical movements will not shake anybody. we have always had new movemns like you and what you believe in, christianity, karites etc so join them. we should drop the holy torah because you have complains?

  3. Harav Hagaon R. Shlomo Miller Shlita (Toronto) said that the Frum community (Media etc.) should not refer to them as Open “Orthodox” but Open “Reform”

  4. G-d bless Rabbi Gordimer, that he should continue exposing the falsehood of the “Open” religion. Explaining what someone else is doing wrong is NOT attacking them. Explaining that the “Open” religion is not Judaism is correct.

  5. Where’s the response from YU, RCA, OU and Young Israel? Perhaps if they would have reacted and acted sooner things wouldn’t have gotten so far out of hand.
    When someone is a menace on the road we revoke his driver’s license. When a “rabbi” is a menace to Yiddishe neshamos his smicha should be revoked. If only the MO rabbanim had the guts to defrock these kofrim there would be no need for articles like this.

  6. Mr. ‘toasted’ who are you attacking? Fine name you chose for yourself. I truly feel sorry for you.
    רפואה שלימה בקרוב.

  7. If they call themselves modern Orthodox, and they will be considered the modern Orthodox. They will no longer be the open orthodox. But then they will have problems with others because there is already in modern Orthodox movement. In all thought they will have to become modern in their values of what the Orthodox are supposed to be . But in reality this might ever denigrate the modern Orthodox. And so therefore maybe it is Hashems plan that this open orthodoxy becomes the one-way step that the modern orthodoxy are no longer acceptable upon Israel’s needs. That’s the reality that I see is that we are a Torah driven culture given Commandments. There’s only one way to become Torah and that is with Israel strong. There will be possibly no modern orthodoxy in the future because they are weak to Israel. The very foundations of Israel are values of Torah and Torah must be observed. Therefore the men who even think that they should shave their faces when they get older to be modern Orthodox may not be valid features as they wouldn’t be in any sense by Torah.

    I think the open orthodoxy is clearly a sham and they are made for the idea that a woman can replace the soul of Israel with feminine courtesy. This is a heretic world and we have seen so many. Let’s just hope that this modern orthodoxy that exists in cosmopolitan synagogues will ever decide that it should just be straight Torah Judaism.

    Very curious that the failure of open orthodoxy is so grand that they cannot even keep their identity of their cross. Such as in a reality where there is no leeway for sin or crime. They are very bad and the criminals always get caught. Shalom.

        • to anonymous aug 28 10:43 am
          get thru shas poskim sirei mussar(al taharus hakodesh) etc and we can talk. now we see where you come from your beliefs com from makom avi avos hatme . no wonder your kefira

          • I have no idea what you are saying but it seems a hate curse. Are we not allowed to improve education? I am explaining why my comments may obviously not be easy to quick read. They are designed. Best wishes. Your clever trick of the very unorthodox faced angry seeming yiddish/hebrew accusation is not well received. I am not one added to Israel by the love of being born religious. I studied much after fighting the worst learned impulses to pursue non kosher life by the hate reform communities our families were set forth in years less than exposed to Torah true values. It is hard but worthwhile. No jew should stay with reform or conservative… but we will yet understand your accusation curt reply.

  8. The droves that are bored with orthodoxy are your children and their ilk. And you, yes you, are the reason for it. If you’re honest enough to seek vibrancy and Simcha in orthodoxy, then simply walk into any yeshiva tomorrow and hold on to your jaws. As for all shomrei Torah umitzvos, let’s try to remain stuck in the 1930s for as long as possible.

    • to zev 9:04
      What stuck in the 1930’s? He means 3000 years ago zman matan toruseynu!i dont even know why they celebrate shevous, as they belive its man made. (partial or all, ones you dont believe the whole torah, every letter is min hashoayim then your a heretic see sanhedrin rambam ,sulchen urech , yeah, what they mock ‘stuck in 1930s 1800 all theway down’

  9. These “O.O.’s” or “M.O.’s” or whatever they call themselves are just a bunch of bored confused Jews. Leave them alone and they’ll disappear in a while. It is imperative to alert the community with these articles about what they’re up to so that no one falls into their midst and C”V incur an aveirah.

    • to the comish 8/28 9:26
      the OO are not confused jews. they aremumrim lhachis miachven l’hamrido.but its quite likely they dont belive in diety as they rejejct torah misini or partial , which is the same. even one letter see talmud

  10. Thank you matzav for helping expose this so called modern open orthodox. They are a group of lefty liberals who hate Torah. They are nobody’s.

  11. Rabbi gordinerr a truly modern Ortho defending real Ortho? No beard, no payos, speaks zero Yiddish,no hat and a barely there Kipa.
    The hypocrisy is evident.
    I daven , yes daven at a open/modern Ortho Shul in chicago on Touhy Ave. complete Davening, torah leining (reading that means to rabbi gordinerr)etc. even a kapital (chapter) tehillum for the flood victims of Houston. The Rabbi expounded שיר המעלות ממעקים the depths meaning the flood waters in Houston can’t be absorbed into the ground because of the saturation, amazing the open/modern rabbi made tehillum relevant for this week.
    The Jewis people have never been monolithic. To try to deny this is to ignore history.
    Proud to be part of the ‘modern’ orthodox in Chicago, viva Touhy ave. viva our rabbim.
    We will be having a Shul picnic at the Jcc, please join us and work at tikun olam!(yiddish for fixing up this place, renovation and good stuff).

  12. The gdolim oppose the social culture and utilitarian ethos of “mainstream” society, not its true progress in sciences and technology. This mob is Misyanvany, pure and simple. But the current defenders of M’sorah are not quite Makabiim. The names of their musmakhim must be published, together with the persons who were musamikh them and the organizations that hired them. This khevrah/mob is more dangerous than Y.P., the shepsels, and the Frankim.


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