Chief Rabbinate Rejecting Rabbi Avi Weiss An Insult to American Orthodox Rabbinate

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate has decided that Rabbi Avi Weiss, one of the foremost Orthodox Rabbis in the world wasn’t Orthodox enough for them.  This decision by the extremist Chief Rabbinate is an attack upon the entire American Orthodox rabbinate – one made without transparency or consultation with Weiss’ himself.

This year marks Reb Avi’s 40th year as the spiritual leader of one of the largest Orthodox synagogues in America, and he is one of the foremost leaders of the Jewish community.

As Israeli attorney Assaf Benmelech noted to the Chief Rabbinate, it is unfortunate that documents of “an important rabbi among modern Orthodoxy in the United States” were being rejected on “unclear grounds.” As Benmelech continued “the circles of modern Orthodoxy, which are courageously dealing with the challenges of our generation within the boundaries of Halacha – are unwelcome in the Chief Rabbinate. It is every person’s right to disagree with a different rabbi’s halachic opinion – but there is a long way between that and rejecting his testimony on the Jewishness of his congregation members.” Shameful.

A statement from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School (which Weiss founded) noted: Rabbi Avi Weiss is one of the leading Orthodox rabbis in America. His Orthodoxy and scrupulous adherence to halakha, both in his personal life and in his religious leadership, is absolute and beyond any doubt. His synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has been a model for the Orthodox community since its inception. His profound commitment to Torah and halakha, with all its depth and nuances, and his unflagging mesirat nefesh on behalf of Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, are unquestionable. 

We were therefore shocked and deeply troubled that the Office of the Chief Rabbi would cast doubts on this recognized and respected American Orthodox leader. We understand that the Office of the Chief Rabbi has based its decision on reports from “rabbis with roles in the RCA”. We suggest that the Office of the Chief Rabbi question its sources in America – particularly those with “roles in the RCA” – and not Rabbi Weiss. We have spoken to the leadership of the RCA. They have denied making the statements attributed to them. Questioning Rabbi Weiss’s Orthodox credentials is an offense not just to him, but to the entire American Orthodox rabbinate.”

Read more on Rabbi Avi Weiss here: