RCA Considering Kicking Out Avi Weiss

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avi-weissAccording to a source in a Jewish Week report, the Rabbinical Council of America is considering expelling Avi Weiss for giving semicha to a woman, Sara Hurwitz. 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.

That move by Weiss may result in his expulsion from the RCA. When asked whether the RCA is going to bring Weiss before its Vaad HaKavod, the committee charged with investigating “allegations of improprieties,” as a the first step in expulsion or discipline, the RCA’s executive director, Rabbi Basil Herring, told The Jewish Week via email that Weiss is not under investigation “at present.”

However, a source employed by one of Weiss’ enterprises confirmed to The Jewish Week that “the RCA is considering kicking out Avi Weiss.”

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Rabbi Avi Weiss, dean and founder of YCT, in an essay on “Open Orthodoxy” writes, “As a modern orthodox rabbi, I profess an unequivocal commitment to the truth, validity and eternal applicability of the Halakhic system. No less than my brethren of the Orthodox Right, I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the law given by God at Sinai, to which the Jewish people committed itself. Torah mi-Sinai is a form of heteronomous law, a structure of law that operates independent of any individual, imposing its standards and guidelines.”

    In the same article Rabbi Weiss writes, “Orthodox Jewry should adopt elements of the Reform and Reconstructionist universalistic agenda of tikkun olam, “repair of the world.” At the turn of the twentieth century, one prominent Orthodox rabbi declared that Orthodox Jews would do well to learn from Conservative Jews how to give tzedaka (charity) and how to show respect for rabbis.”

    Rabbi Weiss continues, “Modern Orthodoxy is open to secular studies and views other than those of their rabbis; open to non-Jews and less observant Jews;…open to contact with Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements…”

  2. Weiss was twice selected as one of the “Fifty Jewish Leaders to Watch in the Year Ahead” by The Forward newspaper (1994, 1997); and was named Rabbi of the Year for 1993-94 by the New York Board of Rabbis. In 2007, he was selected as one of “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” by Newsweek, ranking 25th on the list.


    GET HIM OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. at the “Chag Hasemicha” in which Yeshivat Chovevei Torah celebrated the ordination of their students, news reports listed some of the guests: they included, “Rabbi David Ellinson, the president of Hebrew Union College (Reform), Rabbi Joseph Brody, Vice President for student affairs at the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative), and Rabbi Saul Berman of Edah [Today a senior member of YCT faculty]. “All three danced together with the students, the faculty and other guests.”

  4. I meant TO ADD:

    Weiss coined the term “Open Orthodox”, and founded Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, which operates under the same model, and aspires to foster intellectual openness, expanding the role of women in Judaism while adhering to Halakha, and cultivating spirituality.

    R. Weiss defined “Open Orthodoxy” as six points (1) The rejection of the approach of daat torah (the idea of relying on the opinions of a small number of gedolim (major) Torah scholars for all matters, including secular and political matters) in favor of Jewish learning combined with secular studies, and rabbis and individuals making their own decisions, (2) an expansive concern for all Jews, (3) open support for the modern State of Israel (4) More expansive roles for women (5) Pluralism, (6) Public political protest and activism.

  5. Those YCT faculty members who purport to call themselves students of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik are challenged to prove that their conduct would have been sanctioned by Rav Soloveitchik. They are liars and have distorted Rav Soloveitchik’s shitos.

  6. The guy doesn’t believe in “daat torah.” what does he beleieve in? he beleives he’ll save klal yisroel because miss hurwitz will wear a rabbi sign?

  7. The RCA has been closing in on Rabbi Weiss for several years, declaring that no rabbi ordained by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a men’s rabbinical school founded by Rabbi Weiss, can be even be considered for RCA membership. For many mainstream Orthodox synagogues, an RCA denial of membership is equivalent to a denial of YCT’s basic Orthodox credentials.

    There have been reports of RCA rabbis lobbying synagogues not to hire rabbis ordained by YCT, a reflection of what they think of Rabbi Weiss’ standards.

    In a twist, one Rabbi Weiss school, YCT, won’t recognize the rabbinic credentials of the other Rabbi Weiss school, Yeshivat Maharat, with Rabba Hurwitz being denied membership in the International Rabbinic Fellowship, also founded by Rabbi Weiss and primarily composed of YCT rabbis.

  8. R. Avi Weiss is a Chassidishe Yid. His father was a Bobover chossid in der alter heim. He has Chassidim teaching at YCT, limoshol R. Katz and R. Rapoport. The latter is allegedly an expert on toeivah inyonim al pi Torah, wrote a book on it, and lectured at YCT on the topic.

    There are serious problems with YCT, but its not all psoiles. They have some nice and sincere people, but they are heavily influenced by liberalism (their HQ used to be by Columbia University), and that is dangerous. Zach is, people here are not so experienced in eating pomegranates and discarding the klippah, so we have to take precautions and defensive measures.

    Hopefully whatever has to be done will be done as peacefully as possible. Just like a sick person, choli haguf, is quarantined, sometimes spiritual illness needs to be separated from us as well.

  9. Wow, what a reaction against a “rabba”, and what an almost complete silence about the meshichenists that are really threatens the foundation of Yddishkeit.

  10. Actually this is not just about a “rabba” but a break with mesorah dont change the subject these steps away from Mesorah lead toward Reform and Conservative

  11. #14 Responsible citizen…

    “Rabbi Weiss is a voice of sanity in the Torah world”

    Respectfully, please explain, where and when has Rabbi Weiss displayed any sincere Torah knowledge.
    Unfortunatly, he has on many occasions displayed a total ignorance of basic Torah knowledge.
    Eevn the Conservative movements earlier leaders were very learned and displayed great Torah knowledge. Unfortunatly, they did not keep to the Halacha and falsified many concepts and fundamental principals of the Torah. Rabbi Weiss does not come close or is not in the same league, in Torah. Perhaps in falsification of Torah principals he is equal to them.

  12. I have learned and davened w/R’Avi and he is one of the Gedolai HaDor. His ability to convey Torah ruach to people is beyond that of any Rav I have ever met. His learning credentials are impeccable, as is his devotion to every Jew wherever. He comes from a frum family going way back.
    To the critics: have you gone to Argentina after the AMIA blast for menachem ayvel? Have you protested against the Iranians? Have you been Jonathan Pollard’s rav, going to prison many times a year to see the man in solitary confinement? Have you given chizuk to Chabad shluchim? Have you brought the world to see the shonda of the Auschwitz convent?
    Don’t criticize R’Avi as a rabbi till you’ve stepped up to the plate and done some of his mitzvos, come to his shul and seen the kiddush hashem that is his leadership.
    You can disagree with one of R’Avi’s actions, but to make sweeping negations of any Yid, let alone a Gadol HaDor, is the foulest Lashon Hara.

  13. 18:
    “Respectfully, please explain, where and when has Rabbi Weiss displayed any sincere Torah knowledge.”
    Wow, talk about displays of total ignorance. Having heard Rabbi Weiss give learned drashos many times, I can attest that he is indeed very learned, and sadly for the rabble calling for his head, could learn them under the table. More importantly, if you had any interactions with him (try attending his shul one Shabbos), you’d be embarrassed to have called him anything but a warm, generous Ohev Yisroel.

  14. Avi Weiss is a nice guy and he may be learned too.I dont know. But that is NOT the issue. When he attempts to give “Semicha” to a woman that is going against the halacha and against our mesorah. That is what the Conservative and Reform do. It has no place in Torah Judaism.

  15. Re: No. 13 Bobover Rebbe’s neshama is no doubt sobbing over what Avi is up to. The great Rebbe was a model for the entire world — Jews and non-Jews. Avi, on the other hand, likes to get his name in the paper, tear away at traditional Judaism, and dabble in political activism.

  16. See R’ Gil Student’s analysis of R’ Weiss’s charifus (or lack thereof). He performs at the level of a YCT graduate.

  17. I too am a Riverdale bred Jew … who grew up in the Weiss home and was close friends with his children. While I 100% agree with and corroborate Rabbi Avi and Rebbetzin Toby’s ( also Dov, Ilana, and Dina – for that matter) golden hearts, incomparable Ahavas Yisroel, pure altruism, and prolific Mesiras Nefesh … it by no means excuses or condones his Perishat Hatzibbur. The road to gehennom is paved with good intentions … and while I love Rabbi Avi Weiss as a person/Yid, he has clearly crossed the line with the best intentions. Unfortunately, Mesorah and Minhag trump distortion of true Torah orthodoxy.


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