Dec 10, 2011

this topic will continue to generate heat - that is a good thing


My thanks to all those who are in touch privately with me in response to the open letter from Bay Area Masorti.

There are a number of different problems many have with the original JPost article, which has been reposted by Jpost here:  There are a number of problems others have with the letter I authored.

Reactions have ranged from rejection (mostly from American-born Conservative rabbis and American rabbinical students) to appreciation (mostly from Israeli-born Masorti Jews). This is not about who agrees or disagrees with any certain idea - not gay inclusion, not egalitarianism - but rather this is about whose vision for Masorti Judaism will lead others to see our Movement as their home. Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum''s Torah does this. The loss of her is of enormous significance. But the loss, as the following official statement by Emily Levi Schochat, chair of the Israeli Masorti Movement, makes clear, is to Schechter, and not to the Israeli Masorti Movement.

אמילי לוי שוחטיו"ר התנועה המסורתית:

"אינני בטוחה שאני רוצה להגיבאך אני כמובן מצטערת מאוד על פרישתה של הרבה תמר אלעד-אפלבום מהנהגת בית המדרש לרבנים.רבים מאיתנו בתנועה המסורתית רואים ברבה תמר מורת דרך ומצפן אידיאולוגיהיא תוסיף להנהיג בתוך התנועה המסורתיתגם אם לא  בבית המדרש לרבנים עצמושהוא מוסד נפרד מהתנועה מבחינה ארגונית ואולי גם הלכתיתאנו,בתנועה המסורתיתמחבקים אותה בחוםאין ליספק שפרישתה תחייב את בית המדרש לחשיבהמחודשת באשר לדרכו."

"I'm not sure I would choose to respond, except to say that I am of course saddened by Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum's leaving the Schechter Rabbinical School.  Many of us from the Masorti Movement see in Rabbi Tamar a spiritual leader and inspiring thinker. She will continue to be a leader in the Masorti Movement, even if not in the Schechter Rabbinical School itself, which is a separate institution from the Masorti Movement institutionally, and perhaps halachically as well. We, in the Masorti Movement, embrace her warmly. I have no doubt that her departure will obligate Schechter to consider afresh its direction."

Again, I presume this topic will continue to generate heat. That, to my mind, is a good thing. The Masorti Movement in Israel is worthy of the attention, and the need for a resonant Rabbinical School for the Masorti Movement is worthy of discussion.  The response that suggests that there is no problem is predictable and wrong. Institutional self-protection is natural. But, as the Bay Area Masorti Open Letter said in it's title: we have a problem. Acknowledging it is the first step I pray is taken.

Shavuah Tov,

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  || Bay Area Masorti ||  ShefaNetwork 
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