“RCA resolution on female ordination‘political and unfortunate,’ says Riskin”
By JEREMY SHARON
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, municipal chief rabbi of Efrat and one of the most prominent leaders of Modern Orthodoxy, has criticized a recent resolution adopted by the Rabbinical Council of America which banned its member rabbis from giving any form of ordination to women or hiring women in a role of religious or spiritual leadership.
The RCA resolution said its members may not “ordain women into the rabbinate, regardless off the title used” or “hire, or ratify the hiring of, a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution.”
It appeared to be mostly aimed at institutions associated with the liberal Orthodox movement loosely defined as Open Orthodoxy, including Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, New York, founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss, which gives ordination to women to serve as spiritual guides and give rulings in Jewish law, or halacha.
Riskin, along with other rabbis in Israel, is himself an RCA member and oversees the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute for Halachic Leadership (WIHL) at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, which gives women a qualification that amounts to ordination, although it is not labelled as such.
And Riskin has also appointed a graduate of WIHL to a position of spiritual leadership, the first such appointment to the Orthodox world in Israel, when he hired Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld last year to work as a halachic and spiritual guide in Efrat.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post earlier this week, Riskin said that the RCA’s resolution was “unfortunate” and argued that it was not based on the substantive issues of women’s ordination.
“I believe the resolution they made wasn’t halachic as much as it was political,” the rabbi said. Click to read more…