It Is Time for True Achdus In Orthodoxy

“Years ago, Rabbi Sherer would stand at conventions and dinners of Agudath Israel and demolish and tear away at false premises of Conservative and Reform movements and their claims to speak for the Jewish people…

“A new danger has appeared on the horizon. A movement which calls itself Open Orthodoxy seeks to subvert the sacred meaning of Yiddishkeit. [A movement] steeped in apikorsus and dei’os kozvos….”

Those were the words of the Novominsker Rebbe, shlita, at last week’s Agudath Israel Dinner at the New York Hilton. When discussing the Rebbe’s address, a friend asked, “Who cares about some crazy yeshivah or organization that ordains women as Rabbis; whose dean lobbied his state government for legislation on behalf of ‘alternative marriage’; whose ‘Rosh Yeshivah’ consistently writes missives disparaging the Avos, including things like ‘Avraham Avinu, wanting to undertake Akeidas Yitzchak, failed the test,’ ‘Yitzchak Avinu was a bad father’ —afra l’pumei?!

“Anyone familiar with Judaism knows that they are very far from anything even remotely considered Orthodox. Why should we heimishe Yidden care?”

The answer? Certainly we should care! Dealing with the danger of “Open Orthodoxy” must be among the things atop the agenda for all Yidden who truly care about the future of Klal Yisrael.


Firstly, if the Novominsker Rebbe chose to discuss this issue in his major address where traditionally only things at the forefront of the communal agenda are tackled, that should be enough. In his speech, the Rebbe briefly outlined why it’s important. Let us expand.

Anyone with even a modicum of ahavas Yisrael, especially for Jews living beyond the main Jewish centers, should be horrified by what Open Orthodoxy is doing. By insisting on calling themselves Orthodox, they are taking advantage of the ignorance and innocence of their fellow, unschooled Jews, selling them a potpourri of “progressive” hogwash under the guise of Orthodox Judaism. When animal rights are sold as Orthodoxy instead of shechitah, when to’eivah rights are sold as compassion, when ordaining women Rabbis is marketed as equality, one suspects that there is a bait and switch going on. Open Orthodoxy markets itself as Orthodox, but in practice teaches some ersatz form of Conservative/Reform/Progressive/Pluralist/Universal religion.

If we really care about kiruv rechokim, we should be deeply pained over the exploitation of the ignorance of countless, well-meaning rechokim. They are being fed a pack of lies about “Orthodoxy” that will only further distance them from Yiddishkeit.

Additionally, the fact that YCT graduates ordained as “Orthodox” Rabbis are being placed in varied communities will increase incidences of mamzeirus and the like. YCT Rabbis have gone on record advocating retroactive nullification of kedushin and similar anti-halachic practices that will increase mamzeirus among the Jewish people.

Most shuls that hire these Rabbis have no idea of the differences between YCT Rabbis and other Modern Orthodox Rabbis. Many only take them because YCT underwrites to pay the first two years of the Rabbi’s salary. For a cash-strapped shul, two years’ salary is a tremendous incentive; some might call it a bribe.

The colossal chillul shem Shamayim being perpetrated by those heads of YCT and their ordained Rabbis is incalculable! One of the prime tools of the maskilim in 19th century Europe to wreak immeasurable damage upon the Jewish people was how, despite their paltry numbers, they influenced the public agenda by taking advantage of the always suspicious, often anti-religious Czarist government and co-opting it to further their nefarious agenda. For example, the maskilim were the major force behind Czarist intervention in the Jewish educational system.

Today, Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of Open Orthodoxy, uses the always suspicious, usually anti-religious New York Times to further his agenda. He, an ostensibly Orthodox Rabbi, wrote an op-ed article in the Times advocating the introduction and acceptance of Reform and Conservative marriage in Israel. He lambasted the Rabbanut as “ultra strict” and “religiously extreme.”

Just last week another YCT ordained Rabbi, named Shmuly Yanklowitz, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal rife with lies and obfuscation publically castigating shechitah, Jewish ritual slaughter, today as “inhumane” and “unethical.” He took pains to tell the Wall Street Journal’s international readership that he is taking this position as an Orthodox Rabbi. He did a similar thing a few months back in the Huffington Post where he penned an article with the provocative headline, “5 Reasons Being an Orthodox Rabbi Compelled Me to Support [to’eivah] Marriage.”

Clearly, the Novominsker Rebbe was, if anything, understated when he called Open Orthodoxy “a movement that is a danger for Klal Yisrael steeped in apikorsus and dei’os kozvos.”

By highlighting the danger the Rebbe has placed the battle against Open Orthodoxy at the forefront of authentic Orthodoxy’s communal agenda.

Now is the time for true achdus. People mistakenly think that achdus means sitting around the campfire, singing together, agreeing on everything. No! Achdus can mean shared religious goals. It’s now time for all Orthodox people and organizations that truly care about Hashem and His Torah to join the struggle. The RCA, the OU and other similar organizations that are troubled and often horrified by what Open Orthodoxy is doing can and should raise their voice with unequivocal condemnation and battle against the anti-Orthodox, anti-Torah movement called Open Orthodoxy.

Let all of us who really care about Orthodoxy, regardless of what kind of hat or kippah, come out — each in his own way — and declare Open Orthodoxy a non-Orthodox, non-halachic movement with all of the halachic ramifications that such a declarations entails.

The time for true achdus is now.

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