Can the OU Expel Synagogues From Orthodoxy?

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by R. Gil Student

Let’s say the OU were to expel a synagogue, or 4, what practical difference would it make?

Insider politics within the Orthodox Jewish community is abuzz with discussion of whether the Orthodox Union (OU) will expel four member synagogues that have hired women clergy. This debate misses the essential nature and the very structure of the Orthodox community today.

In response to developments on the left fringes of the Orthodox-affiliating community, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has issued three resolutions opposing the ordination and hiring of women clergy. The OU convened its own rabbinical panel, consisting of leading rabbis and roshei yeshiva, to which it posed these two questions:

  1. Is it halachically acceptable for a synagogue to employ a woman in a clergy function?
  2. What is the broadest spectrum of professional roles within a synagogue that may be performed by a woman?
The rabbinical panel issued a 17-page response to these two questions. To the first, it said: “For the reasons stated above we believe that a woman should not be appointed to serve in a clergy position.” To the second, the panel offered general guidelines.

No respected halachic authority has concluded to the contrary regarding women clergy…

Continued on the Jewish Press.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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