With Friends Like These: Are the Ultra Orthodox Pushing Us Out?

A group of men in black hats and white shirts decided recently to band together and decide for the community what was best for them. While their adherence to the Torah can be commended, the public criticism and rejection of their fellow Jews has to be condemned. Why does it have to be either “Ben Adam LeMakom” (between man and G-d) or “Ben Adam LeChaveiro (between man and his friend)?” Can’t we get along?

To summarize:

Last week, the Rabbinical Council of America — RCA released a statement that calls to hinder the progress of women in Orthodox Judaism. These women have worked hard to make significant strides in Torah learning and communal leadership and are now being told to stop. From the RCA statement: “Orthodox institutions may not 1)Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or 2) Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or 3) Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution…”

Agudath Israel of America decided to follow suit and declare Open Orthodoxy heretical: “Open Orthodoxy” and its leaders and affiliated entities (including, but not limited to, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yeshivat Maharat, and International Rabbinic Fellowship), have shown countless times that they reject the basic tenets of our faith, particularly the authority of the Torah and its Sages. Accordingly, they are no different than other dissident movements throughout our history that have rejected these basic tenets. We therefore inform the public that in our considered opinion, “Open Orthodoxy” is not a form of Torah Judaism (Orthodoxy), and that any rabbinic ordination granted by any of its affiliated entities to their graduates does not confer upon them any rabbinic authority.”

Let us not forget the Hareidim at Mishpacha Magazine who published an article with an opening in Arabic saying “We, the Hareidi public, have no interest in going up to the Temple Mount at this time. We vehemently oppose doing so. Even more: Jewish law severely proscribes such an act — on penalty of spiritual excommunication. Therefore you will never see Hareidim ascending the mount, with the exception of one single family, acting on its own, which is condemned for the practice. So even if you have in your hand solid information about an Israeli desire to change the status quo at the Dome of the Rock — which is not true, as far as we know — this has nothing to do with the Hareidi public. So please, stop murdering us.” Way to throw the rest of us Jews under the bus, eh?

Is this what we have come to as Jews? It’s not enough that we are being targeted by other nations, we have to bring ourselves down as well? Is the Jewish leadership so out of touch with our needs? (Did Rabbi Meir Mazuz really NEED to announce that the Henkins’ murder was punishment for gay pride parades?) Statements like these are disrespectful to the work that women do to uphold the Jewish tradition and to the Orthodox institutions who work to be inclusive of their members within the confines of halacha. Shutting them down will only cause further strife for us all.

About the Author
Libi Adler is an Israeli-born American Jew living in New York City. Raised by Israeli parents, she has shown a commitment to Israel through doing Sherut Leumi. Libi has a BA in Communication.
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