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What do you think of Open Orthodoxy?

I must tell you truth I don’t know much about open orthodoxy, which is basically far left wing modern orthodoxy, which takes from all the movements to come up with their own brand. To me its still orthodoxy based on the stuff I have heard, its just not “socially acceptable” according to the frummies.

Open orthodoxy is just different and more left wing then traditional orthodoxy and anything that breaks with tradition is hated by the ultra orthodox. I haven’t actually heard of anything antithetical to halacha or as they call it halkha as of yet.

All I have heard are rumors, like Rabbi Avi Weiss (the man who coined the term) has a secret mikvah on the upper wests side for single women – not one person has actually confirmed this. Another hatred towards left wing orthodoxy is that they let the women dance with the torahs on simchat torah. I have asked my rebbes and they all have said the same thing. They have all said that women dancing with the torah is not a halachic issue – in the words of every black hat rabbi “its just not recommended” why is it not recommended? Well that’s just not how “we” do things.

But I like open orthodoxy, it lowers the mechitzas and makes me feel at home when I wear sandals to shul, I also like that they support environmental activism and I am all about their social liberalisms. I also think that open orthodoxy is good for right wing orthodoxy.

Yeshiva Chovevei Torah (YCT) is Yeshiva Universities main competition, they take the more left wing YU students away from YU, but they do something else. They take people from more left wing movements and bring them into orthodoxy. I think its great that someone orthodox can say say, hey those right wing people are not it, we have every stream to fit anyone’s needs while still upholding torah law and so on.

No one has, as of yet been able to tell me anything that open orthodoxy does that is blatantly against halacha. It has all been items that are not “recommended”, or rumors – please enlighten me.

{ 82 comments… add one }
  • Ilana-Davita February 25, 2009, 1:57 PM

    I read Avi Weiss’s comment on the parshah every week and it has never struck me as blatantly against halachah. The same applies to the students’ papers that are available on yct’s website.
    You might also wish to check his shul’s website:
    http://www.hir.org/index.html
    Hope more people will add their two cents on the subject.

  • T February 25, 2009, 1:59 PM

    I think that rumor about Avi Weiss is probably BS – There’s no way a “secret” mikveh would stay a secret for very long. It’s possible that there are mikvehs that are don’t-ask-don’t-tell, however, and that some rabbis do encourage single women to use them if they’re not going to stop having pre-marital sex.

    I am all about Open Orthodoxy. I know people who were Conservative but got drawn into Orthodoxy by Open Orthodoxy. It takes halacha very seriously but doesn’t believe everything Ultra Orthodox rabbis say without looking into it for themselves, and sometimes it draws different conclusions from the halacha. I like being able to go to women’s-only torah readings or women’s simchas torah hakafos. It makes it possible for me to feel less resentful towards Orthodoxy and to therefore stay frum. Whereas when I was only going to Ultra-Ortho shuls I started feeling like maybe Orthodoxy wasn’t for me because of how machmir, right-wing and conservative everyone was and how they accepted every chumra unthinkingly and judged other people harshly. I like being able to be Orthodox and also care about social justice and environmental issues – Open Orthodoxy shows that one doesn’t have to become Reform in order to be an activist or make change in the world or (chas v’shalom) talk about tikkun olam. I also like that they are less afraid of “the goyim” and more interested in working with non-Jewish orgs on economic justice projects, for instance. This makes the Ortho world less insular. I know people who are interested in converting Ortho and might not be if there was no left wing of Orthodoxy.

  • Susanne February 25, 2009, 2:01 PM

    I doubt the mikvah is “secret”. I just don’t think that the Upper West Side’s regular location would shoo away anyone not wearing a ring. And they don’t ask for a ketubah at the door. How would the mikvah lady know if someone is married or unmarried. By the time you get to her, you’re not wearing anything; not a ring, not a wig, not even nail polish. Who cares!

    In regards to open orthodoxy, these folks keep the laws. Plus, spiritually, they’re holier than many black hatters I know. That makes them awesome in my book.

  • Michal bas Avraham February 25, 2009, 2:11 PM

    When I was at HIR in Riverdale for a Shabbos, a kallah carried the Torah around the women’s section for the kissing of the Torah.

    There’s a lot of people who go to this movement because they don’t keep everything and feel more comfortable there. However, the movement itself doesn’t endorse this.

  • Bubbles February 25, 2009, 2:14 PM

    I can address one of your issues. I asked many times about the concept of the women and the Sifrei Torah and was told every single time, by various sources, that the reason was simple. Women who are tamei because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I don’t recall the source, but I was given one). Since it would be a bit embarrassing to ask every woman who wanted to touch/hold a Torah, it became accepted in Orthodoxy that women simply don’t.

    And yes, technically single women can go to the mikvah. But, seeing as the only reason a woman would need to go to the mikvah is so that she can have sex, and Judaism frowns upon pre-marital sex, how exactly can a “single’s mikvah” be considered a halachically good thing?

    • Arnold Ziffle December 21, 2010, 9:32 AM

      A Sefer Torah is not mekabel tuma. In Israel numerous Religious Zionist synagogues “allow” women to dance with, kiss and otherwise give kavod to a Sefer Torah. The tuma excuse is bogus.

      It’s all part of the “Artscrolling” of Judaism in America. Orthodox American Jews have no ability to check primary sources and think for themselves. If Art Scroll gives a particular pshat or the Rabbi says X, it’s then set in stone.
      It’s really sad!

    • Adam December 25, 2011, 8:31 PM

      Single female b’not kohanim always used to go to the mikveh in order to eat terumah, which was permitted to them since their fathers were priests. I guess practically it doesn’t take place anymore since we don’t have ritual contamination/purity nowadays. But back in those days there is no way they could have forbade single women from immersing. Plus, there were metzoraim and zavos, etc. For some reason, I thought that tum’as niddah is a different kind of contamination.

      How about single women needing to immerse in order to ascend har habayis nowadays? (According to the opinion that says it is muttar, at least.)

  • Hannah Heller February 25, 2009, 2:14 PM

    I think open orthodoxy is great! It’s unfortunate that such a term is necessary – indicating that the rest of orthodoxy is closed. There is nothing wrong with more inclusive roles for women. It’s just very different from the way things have been and many people are uncomfortable with major changes.

  • smooth shemp February 25, 2009, 2:17 PM

    Yes, there is room in the world for all types of Jewish expression and open orthodoxy might have its place for some. We should celebrate all the expressions of our fellow Jews that are in the ballpark of our comfort zones and might be somewhat halachic. Better than being on the outside looking in for sure as too many of our brothers and sisters are seeking a spiritual home and may not fir in traditional orthodox or even traditional modern orthodox circles. Remember, Young Israel and Yeshiva University were once considered new and unusual to the standard yeshiva worlds. I don’t know that much about this new format, but at face value it seems like a good thing for those who might need such a community to feel at home in Shul and in their soul expression within Judaism. With all the many streams and branches within our faith, we need all places for Jews to express their soul journeys. For those of you who like a more alternative yet traditional Kabbalistic form of Modern Orthodoxy please check out http://www.iyyun.com – Rabbi DovBer & Rochie Pinson’s – Iyyun Center… They have kool metaphysical – mystical classes and a Purim party not to be missed (think new age & artsy intellectualism meets Neo-Hassidic). Kudos to Rav Avi Weiss & the Pinsons, 2 different paths that offer new life to us all!

  • Michal bas Avraham February 25, 2009, 2:19 PM

    T,
    I think that’s probably the case, that the mikvah lady doesn’t ask and girls who aren’t married are going. I have a friend who goes to a mikvah on the UWS. She is married but she works in midtown and they’re cheaper and nicer than the ones in Queens.

  • Frum Satire February 25, 2009, 2:23 PM

    Wow such positive reaction – where the hell is CA, Phil and TRS – when you need some good discussion. I expected such anti open orthodox – these comments are very informative – thank you.

  • tired February 25, 2009, 2:35 PM

    yes we are (some of us) tired of fighting, you obviously cater to a much larger field of left wing nuts than to center-to-right.

  • Michal bas Avraham February 25, 2009, 2:44 PM

    Except that Open Orthodoxy is really center if you think about it. Reform, Reconstruction, Conservative are more to the Left and MO machmir, Chabad/Breslov, yeshivish, Heimish and Chareidi are to the right of it.

    Heshy,
    Maybe Phil went ice fishing?

  • Priss February 25, 2009, 2:44 PM

    You’re the linux of orthodoxy, the firefox with ad-block and no-scripts of orthodoxy, the text-edit and paintbrush of orthodoxy. I like a program that gets the job done without the frills of a new computer and required obeisance to rabbis/microsoft/adobe every year. Huzzah for open office (and for open orthodoxy!)

  • Ruth February 25, 2009, 2:48 PM

    So…

    forgive me for being the ignorant little Chareidi girl,

    but what is the difference between Open Orthodox and Modern Orthodox, if there is one?

  • Frum Satire February 25, 2009, 2:53 PM

    “Women who are tamei because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I dont recall the source, but I was given one)”

    There is no issue of a woman who is needa and touching a torah – none – I had this checked out for me many a time – because it seems that this is a big issue.

    • Sarah June 13, 2011, 6:52 AM

      As mentioned – the issue is about whether an object is “mekabel tumah” – and a Sefer Torah is so holy that it cannot receive impurity, therefore whether a woman is nidda or not is irrelevant.

  • abandoning eden February 25, 2009, 2:55 PM

    Hmm, I never heard that term before, but I know a lot of politically left-leaning orthodox people that seem to be similar. Actually, the only orthodox people I am still friends with are people who are like that. They call themselves fringe jews or weird jews, are totally orthodox, but do a lot of social things that don’t quite fit in with the orthodox social scene- for instance there is a big GLBT orthodoxish (I say ish becuase not everyone is orthodox but a lot are) community at UMD.

  • Ruth February 25, 2009, 2:56 PM

    Not that I’m arguing that women should all go feel up the Torah,

    but the Torah is the Torah is the TORAH.

    Our niddah status should have absolutely no effect on its purity.

  • SF2K1 February 25, 2009, 2:59 PM

    The main things against YCT are pretty far left problems. While MO is lenient and modern, it specifically rejects “open” ideas like interfaith learning (they invited cardinals to learn Talmud), giving religious legitimacy to other denominations (not just sitting on a beis din with them) and biblical criticism (I.e. That the Torah is less than true, written by othersvwho weren’t Moshe, etc).

    • Shira June 13, 2011, 6:54 AM

      “giving religious legitimacy to other denominations (not just sitting on a beis din with them) ”

      Recently, R Weiss made a statement condemning sitting on a beit din with non orthodox rabbis…

  • az (for Adar) February 25, 2009, 3:00 PM

    A view from the other side (having been intimately involved with OO institutions for a few years before leaving for more hashkafically-congenial pastures):

    OO is just about saying it’s assur with a smile; basically a kinder, gentler YU/Gush. They have nothing new to offer people genuinely striving for Torah to be a guide for their lives — just the same old Modern Orthodox slogans about integrating Torah/halakha and Mada/ethics/outside culture, as if those were somehow separable. (To be fair, none of the movements have been able to do this, having fallen victim to a desire to perpetuate their institutions and ideologies over an engagement with Torah.) All of their actual decisions (as opposed to their rhetoric) are about kowtowing to institutional Orthodoxy in search of (an apparently ephemeral) acceptance by the mainstream Orthodoxy community. (Even the formation of a new rabbinic body is a response to political difficulties, not substantive ones.) The only difference between them and mainstream Orthodoxy is that they’ll occasionally feel guilty about the apparent disconnect between some inherited norms and other Torah values (which they sometimes incorrectly label as “external” values because of that conflict). A coherent community cannot be built on guilt.

    All of this (save the last) would be fine — training Orthodox rabbis to be mentsches, and pastorally competent, is important and unfortunately necessary — but for the fact that they advertise themselves as something else. ??”?, people who looked to OO for halakhic leadership will realize that they need to turn their sights elsewhere, towards communities whose primary allegience is to engaging with Torah and not to an institutional label.

  • az (for Adar) February 25, 2009, 3:03 PM

    Apologies for the unsuccessful attempt to type in Hebrew — ??”? should be IY”H.

  • Jenny February 25, 2009, 3:10 PM

    BALLS

  • Ra'anan In Albany February 25, 2009, 3:14 PM

    Hey Hesh; CBAJ in Albany gives a torah(or two) to the women on Simchat Torah, and my wife makes Hamotzii on Shabbat and Chagim. There have even been times when my wife made Havdala(i wasn’t around for whatever reason). There’s no reason why we can’t “allow” women to do things they are not halachikly prohibited from doing. Just because “WE” or “THEY” don’t do it is a bad reason, and allows for death and decay. Judaism is about growth, and (G-d forbid!) *QUESTIONING AUTHORITY*. Hello, have you not read the Gemara? It’s all about questioning authority. And if in the process, we can find a way to allow our Nishay Chayil to be more involved and participatory should they choose, then all the better! i find that when my Ayshet Chayil and i can do things together, it brings us closer together.

    • Sarah November 9, 2011, 10:18 AM

      What’s CBAJ?

      • Sarah November 9, 2011, 10:19 AM

        Nevermind, I just looked it up. I might want to check it out sometime (I go to school near Albany).

  • Ra'anan In Albany February 25, 2009, 3:18 PM

    P.S. – it’s kind of like how at some weddings a talit is wrapped around the couple. i have a few pictures of family members with that, and some *more frum* people have privately “tsk-tsked” or made a noise of question, showing their private distaste for the practice. It’s not as if she will next make a bracha and put it on for the sake of leading services.

  • Chava February 25, 2009, 3:19 PM

    Is shira hadasha open orthodox? Or that’s even left from OO?

  • Left Brooklyn February 25, 2009, 3:30 PM

    It is really non-denominational Judaism, except these folks need to be a member of a denomination. So they coined a new term. YCT is about being centrist and open minded.

  • no February 25, 2009, 3:39 PM

    there is nothing centrist about thier environmentelist wacko tree huggin save the whales ideas

    • Sarah November 9, 2011, 10:20 AM

      lollllllllllllll

  • G*3 February 25, 2009, 4:06 PM

    People dissaprove of a couple wearing a talis under the chupah? How parochial of our Eastern-European dominated society.

  • Soren February 25, 2009, 4:47 PM

    So… what’s wrong with Priests learning Talmud,

    so long as he don’t have to read “Sermon on the Mount” and whatnot?

  • YR February 25, 2009, 5:04 PM

    Maimonides says there is no issue with women who are menstruating touching the Torah.

  • chanief February 25, 2009, 5:29 PM

    I don’t know much about this OO you speak of, but it doesn’t sound like a bad thing, kind of like Orthodox Jewry Lite. To each his or hers own, the entire world would be a better place if we worried less about what others were doing and more about what we are up to.

  • Shira February 25, 2009, 5:35 PM

    After reading more about it, I think Open Orthodoxy is something that is needed. What it attempts to do is basically bring more unity among jews and to be more active in the world without compromising the jewish faith and way of living. I think it`s great and I would love to check it out. I specially like how the movement believes there is goodness in the world and that we can learn from it. Torah is beautiful and it opens your eyes to the beauty in this world, so why not learn from the goodness Hashem has placed in the world. Chemistry, language, medicine, art, ect; are things that help me see just how awesome Hashem is. I feel like I learn more about Hashem and my relationship with Him when I learn about the world. I know I`m a hippie 😛 lol Those are just my thoughts.

  • cady February 25, 2009, 5:45 PM

    If men can go into a mikvah for reasons other than sex why can’t a woman? The point is purity not simply sexual relations right? Don’t men go weekly?

  • cady February 25, 2009, 5:50 PM

    (hoping this doesn’t post twice. It disappeared from my screen when I hit submit.)

    Why can’t single women go to the mikvah? Don’t men go weekly? Don’t you go for purity reasons and not just as a prep for sex?

  • cady February 25, 2009, 6:44 PM

    3rd times the charm. Perhaps the “s” word was censoring my post.

    Don’t people use the mikvah for other reasons? Men go weekly for purity. Why can’t women?

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 6:52 PM

    Women who are tamei because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I dont recall the source, but I was given one). Since it would be a bit embarrassing to ask every woman who wanted to touch/hold a Torah, it became accepted in Orthodoxy that women simply dont.

    Even if this is true (and I am not sure if it is or isn’t), women are responsible adults and can choose on their own whether or not to take the Torah in their hands. Just like a man who might be tameh from a nocturnal emission (the closest analogy I can think of for a male) might choose not to take the Torah into his hands.

    As far as “Open Orthodoxy”, it sounds to me like just another group of Jews deciding what their level of observance is going to be, and creating and naming a new movement to validate their choices. Not the first time, and presumably not the last time this will happen.

  • HannaH February 25, 2009, 7:18 PM

    i always wonder if other religeons have issues as this.-not that i want to go off the derech but what do the goyim do about all the little details we always contend with?

  • HannaH February 25, 2009, 7:21 PM

    michal bas avrom- how were u able to fix your problem with sbmiting comments?

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 7:27 PM

    Apparently, there is still a problem!

  • HannaH February 25, 2009, 7:28 PM

    mark- what is this problem? is it my computer or the site?

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 7:31 PM

    Women who are tamei because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I dont recall the source, but I was given one). Since it would be a bit embarrassing to ask every woman who wanted to touch/hold a Torah, it became accepted in Orthodoxy that women simply dont.

    Even if this is true (and I am not sure if it is or isn’t), women are responsible adults and can choose on their own whether or not to take the Torah in their hands. Just like a man who might be tameh from a nocturnal emission (the closest analogy I can think of for a male) might choose not to take the Torah into his hands.

    As far as “Open Orthodoxy”, it sounds to me like just another group of Jews deciding what their level of observance is going to be, and creating and naming a new movement to validate their choices. Not the first time, and presumably not the last time, this will happen.

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 7:32 PM

    The site is not accepting some comments. Maybe long ones, maybe ones with formatting, or maybe something else altogether?

  • HannaH February 25, 2009, 7:44 PM

    mine were not all so long- and they were all in the same format. is there a/t i can do?

  • Phil February 25, 2009, 9:11 PM

    Michal must be psychic! I actually was out ice fishing today, brought home some walleyes for dinner, just logged on now.

    Never heard of this movement, seems like a mikvah specifically for unmarried women would be absurd though, why wouldn’t they just use a regular one?

  • Veebee February 25, 2009, 10:01 PM

    Jenny wins the informative post competition.

    I like open orthodoxy. I find orthodoxy quite limiting.

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 10:37 PM

    Women who are tameiy because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I dont recall the source, but I was given one). Since it would be a bit embarrassing to ask every woman who wanted to touch/hold a Torah, it became accepted in Orthodoxy that women simply dont.

    Even if this is true (and I am not sure if it is or isn’t), women are responsible adults and can choose on their own whether or not to take the Torah in their hands. Just like a man who might be tameh from a nocturnal emission (the closest analogy I can think of for a male) might choose not to take the Torah into his hands.

    As far as “Open Orthodoxy”, it sounds to me like just another group of Jews deciding what their level of observance is going to be, and creating and naming a new movement to validate their choices. Not the first time, and presumably not the last time, this will happen.

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 10:38 PM

    Still not taking my comment that I’ve tried posting a few times ….

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 10:39 PM

    Still not taking my comment that Ive tried posting a few times .

    Trying a comment with formatting.

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 10:43 PM

    Women who are tamei because of their menstrual cycles are not supposed to touch the Torah (I dont recall the source, but I was given one). Since it would be a bit embarrassing to ask every woman who wanted to touch/hold a Torah, it became accepted in Orthodoxy that women simply dont.

    Even if this is true (and I am not sure if it is or isn’t), women are responsible adults and can choose on their own whether or not to take the Torah in their hands. Just like a man who might be tameh from a nocturnal emission (the closest analogy I can think of for a male) might choose not to take the Torah into his hands.

    As far as “Open Orthodoxy”, it sounds to me like just another group of Jews deciding what their level of observance is going to be, and creating and naming a new movement to validate their choices. Not the first time, and presumably not the last time, this will happen. As long as they believe in the primacy of the Torah, it’s okay with me. Live and let live. Pray and let pray.

  • Veebee February 25, 2009, 11:04 PM

    Holy Jesus raptor. If the spam filter catches your post, don’t post it 4324980432908423947328904 times. Heshy will take it out of spam if it’s legit.

  • yeshiva dude February 25, 2009, 11:27 PM

    There is a very thin line seperating modern orthodoxy and certainly open orthodoxy from the reform movement. Come on guys use your common sense! What is the common denominator shared by all three? Answer- they are all slowly diverting traditions (which is what ORTHODOX is all about!), towards the secular world. Yes, reform is more extreme, but the other two are certainly on their way!!!!!!

  • yeshiva dude February 25, 2009, 11:28 PM

    *from traditions

    • Shira June 13, 2011, 7:00 AM

      But the difference between reform and modern orthodoxy is based on a belief that the Torah is Divine, and that we cannot compromise on halacha. The “traditions” that modern orthodoxy might divert would be chumras – which aren’t actually halacha.

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 11:53 PM

    Oy vey, now it came out 5 times!!!! Heshy, please remove all the extra ones!

  • Mark February 25, 2009, 11:57 PM

    Holy Jesus raptor. If the spam filter catches your post, dont post it 4324980432908423947328904 times. Heshy will take it out of spam if its legit.

    How can we tell if it was caught by the spam filter or just lost in space (ok, lost in Internet)?

    Heshy, I hope you enjoyed the wedding!

  • HannaH February 26, 2009, 12:28 AM

    how do you “format” your comment?

  • Ra'anan In Albany February 26, 2009, 12:35 AM

    True, Jews since Time Immemorial have been creating groups for themselves, and believing in what they want; i believe in the Oneness of G-d and Torah. i also believe in Science, Art, Music, Technology, etc., all of which He created. Who cares what labels people give themselves? Nobody is more or less “Jewish” than anyone else. i am no more Jewish than a friend of mine who barely believes in G-d, yet is Jewish nonetheless. On a separate but related sideline, i don’t want to hear about the “Midos/Am Ha’aretz Jew vs. the Torah/no Midos” Jew. Neither person is a complete person.

  • HannaH February 26, 2009, 1:27 AM

    well, somehow, my comments reappeared. i guess tht was the spam filter you were talking about.
    next time (if there is one) i will just leave it and hope my comments show up so when they do there wont be 357059354615643145 of them.:)

  • TS February 26, 2009, 1:46 AM
  • ipitythefoo February 26, 2009, 3:32 AM

    I’m Openly Orthodox.

  • s(b.) February 26, 2009, 8:12 AM

    If I were to become orthodox, I would be open orthodox. you might recognize it as pre-black hats modern, with an open door and women’s tefillah groups. I’m not (personally) into the whole women’s lib in Judaism thing, but it’s nice to know such options exist for those who dig that. To me, the open part just sees the world as existing beyond an orthodox and further-to-the-right terrarium. (If terrarium works for you, that’s nice. It doesn’t work, for me. And not every orthodox+ person lives in a terrarium.

    I have met reform Jews with stronger Jewish identities than many of the disgruntled orthopraxers who blog. Ever read a conservaprax or a reformoprax blog? Me, neither. They’re doing something right.)

  • explain February 26, 2009, 10:10 AM

    what does terrarium mean?

  • Daniel February 26, 2009, 1:24 PM

    There is no open orthodox there is only ZOOL!

    No seriously if you do a little more research you will find that this latest attempt to water down Judaism is just another code word for Conservaform or Rerormative or whatever other label you want to give the latest wishy washy modern attempt to get rid of Torah and Halacha. The “open orthodox” are not accepted by main stream orthodox, but they hang out just fine with the conformatives as there paradigm is mostly the same.

  • Daniel February 26, 2009, 1:25 PM

    Whoops, I meant their paradigm is mostly the same.

    Gosh I hate when I do that!

  • Jenny February 26, 2009, 2:21 PM

    stop bein all serious ppl! u guys r acting like old farts. (farts pun is indeed intended here)

  • s(b.) February 26, 2009, 3:16 PM

    a terrarium is a small environment in which an ecosystem can exist independently of its surrounding environment (or something close to that). A little box, if that helps simplify it for you.

  • Michael Makovi February 26, 2009, 6:41 PM

    I’d say the difference between Open Orthodoxy and Modern Orthodoxy, is that OO is just the more left-wing side of MO. The same way that Centrist (sic) Orthodoxy is the right-wing side of MO. It’s an analog world.

    As for the need for Open Orthodoxy, let me quote what I wrote at http://michaelmakovi.blogspot.com/2009/02/where-orthodoxy-is-failing.html:

    …IMHO, that’s THE greatest problem in Orthodoxy. That is:

    We aren’t selling a religion based on critical thought, based on the understanding that Judaism is a “religious civilization”, on par with all other civilizations. Mordechai Kaplan may have been wrong, but as Rav Kook says, every idea has some divine truth in it. If Judaism is part of world civilization, if Hashem gave us a Torah that deals with the same issues all nations do, dealing with the same societal and personal issues that all people do, then our attitude towards Torah will be totally different. Independent and courageous thought, critical thinking, analysis and investigation of the world beyond our four cubits, will suddenly be more explicable. In a more prosaic way, the idea that aggadot are not dogmas, won’t be seen as so heretical, because we’ll realize that Hazal were philosophers, using the same basic thought processes as all humans do, albeit with an extra Sinaitic “seed-crystal” to serve as a skeleton for their thought; but the fleshing-out process was a HUMAN one.

    This, I think, is exactly what Rav Hirsch did with Mensch-Yisroel ??? ?????? ???. Reading Rav Hirsch’s “Religion Allied to Progress” and “Judaism Up-to-Date” / “The Jew and His Time”, one realizes that he’s dealing with a totally different conception of Judaism. It doesn’t just come down to whether you can go to university; it’s an entirely different conception of what it means to be Jewish. To refer to Rav Hirsch as being “Orthodox” like Haredi Judaism today, is to do an injustice to one of the two; Rav Hirsch is barely more similar to Haredism than he was to Reformism. In fact, in Nineteen Letters, Rav Hirsch criticizes the old-world religious hardliners more stringently than he criticizes Reform!

    Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits too. Now, many will of course disagree with where some of his philosophies led to, in halacha. But in principle, Rabbi Berkovits’s underlying motivation was as expressed by his son, Rabbi Dov Berkovits (http://www.azure.co.il/article.php?id=261&page=all):
    “I think it safe to say that Eliezer Berkovits used the well-worn phrase halachic Judaism in two revolutionary ways. First, though springing from the fundamental commitments of Orthodoxy, halachic Judaism according to Berkovits refers to a non-denominational, or better, a post-denominational, Judaism whose ultimate concern is not with ideology, or even theology, but with the living demands of the dynamic condition of the Jewish people. Second, though deeply rooted in the wisdom of the Tora, the central aim of halachic Judaism is not to formulate a defensive, traditionalist posture for the protection of Tora from life, but rather to be a formative tool for the creative fashioning of human realities.”

    But what do we have instead of all this? We have a Judaism that forgoes all critical thought, all introspection on how to affect this temporal world, how to influence history and society. Instead, we focus on how to keep mitzvot in all their technical detail, divorced from all philosophy of their meaning. This is “frumkeit”, and it is EXACTLY what Rav Hirsch, in Nineteen Letters, says led to Reform. Reform, says Rav Hirsch, is understandable and reasonable (still wrong, however), when we realize what the Orthodox Jews were up to – says Rav Hirsch, they (the Orthodox) turned Orthodoxy into a dessicated and mummified corpse, devoid of all life, all vitality, all meaning.

  • Aliza Berger-Cooper February 27, 2009, 9:40 AM

    I’ve been reading Frum Satire for the past few months and enjoying it very much. I even wrote in to comment on the intellectual discussion of “how do frum people talk about going to the bathroom!”

    The discussion of Open Orthodoxy reminded me of the Women of the Wall prayer service that took place at the kotel that same day, Rosh Hodesh Adar. I attended as a regular (i.e., local, Israeli-citizen) member of the group. I’m Open Orthodox. Women of the Wall follows the Open Orthodox rabbinical opinion that women’s prayer groups are permissible, and follows halakhah [notice how I spell it 🙂 ] in the prayer service. Conservative and Reform women who are regular members of the group, or attend as guests, compromise and do so also.

    My friend Rahel Jaskow (from whom I learned about Frum Satire, since she has a link to it on her blog!) was our shat”z at the kotel on Wednesday and blogged about it:

    http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.com/2009/02/after-twenty-years-they-still-don-get.html

    If anyone has any questions about the group, they can comment here, and I’ll answer. I’ll clarify one thing in advance: Israeli law (written in response to our group, which began meeting in 1988) states that women are allowed to sing as a group at the kotel, but not read Torah, wear tallit, or wear tefillin. Therefore, we daven shacharit and hallel at the kotel, and move to a nearby “alternative site,” an archaeological site called Robinson’s Arch — which actually is closer to Har Habayit than the kotel! — to read the Torah.

    For those who want a real Hebrew-reading challenge, follow Rahel’s link to the Hebrew ynet article, where I wrote comment #65.

    Shabbat starts in half an hour here in Jerusalem, so shabbat shalom!

    -ABC (Aliza Berger-Cooper)

  • adina February 27, 2009, 11:58 AM

    “I have met reform Jews with stronger Jewish identities than many of the disgruntled orthopraxers who blog. Ever read a conservaprax or a reformoprax blog? Me, neither. Theyre doing something right.”

    No they are not. With a 50% or more rate of intermarriage, most secular Jews think passing down their identity is not so important.

  • Mark February 27, 2009, 1:09 PM

    I have met reform Jews with stronger Jewish identities than many of the disgruntled orthopraxers who blog. Ever read a conservaprax or a reformoprax blog? Me, neither. Theyre doing something right.)

    I’m sure they have plenty of blogs … you just can’t tell the difference between their blogs and non-Jewish blogs 🙂

  • s(b.) February 27, 2009, 2:22 PM

    Adina wrote: No they are not. With a 50% or more rate of intermarriage, most secular Jews think passing down their identity is not so important.

    That assumes that marrying another Jew is the only way to raise children who have positive Jewish identities. I’m not going to argue about that with you. I’ve seen a friend of mine from college do it successfully with his own children. Is it easy? No. But it can be done. The definition of identity varies according to the individual. I am not one to say what it should be for anyone but myself.

    ——————
    Mark, I haven’t looked for blogs by the disgruntled, in general. Is ortho+ the Hotel California of Judaism? (“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”)

  • Phil February 27, 2009, 2:41 PM

    sb,

    Marrying other Jews IS the only way to ensure raising them with positive Jewish identities. Anything else is bound to fail eventually, that is why it’s forbidden as it’s clearly written in Devarim.

    Being Jewish is more than just eating latkes, hamantash or matza balls.

    Your friend is what we would call a “schizophrenic Jew”. If he doesn’t keep the basics, namely keeping his Jewish identity by marrying Jewish, how do you expect him to ensure “positive Jewish identities” for his kids?

    That idea in itself is a ridiculous oxymoron, he isn’t fooling anyone but himself into believing what he’s doing is OK.

  • hi February 28, 2009, 2:23 PM

    Just wanted to point out – a Torah is not mkabel tumah. It is IRRELEVENT whether a woman is nidda or not – she CANNOT make the torah tameh by touching it. There is no halachic reason a woman can’t dance with a Torah.

  • mz March 5, 2009, 12:19 PM

    To read what might be called the mission statement of the Open Orthodox movement, ”Open Orthodoxy! A Modern Orthodox Rabbi’s Creed” (1997) by Rabbi Avraham Weiss, click on the following link: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0411/is_n4_v46/ai_20583577?tag=content;col1

  • Remember Me August 17, 2009, 9:31 PM

    You’ve been to an Open Orthodox shul in Baltimore… remember, Netivot Shalom, Labyrinth and Smith Ave?

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