Weiss, who is perhaps the leading Modern Orthodox rabbi in America but who is controversial for his decision to broaden and deepen women’s communal leadership roles by ordaining them, called on the Government of Israel to break the chief rabbinate’s monopoly over Jewish religious affairs.
Rabbi Avi Weiss, Other Rabbis, May Sue State Of Israel Over Shunning, Alan Dershowitz Reportedly Acting As Their Attorney
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
After having the Chief Rabbinate of Israel summarily refuse to accept his word that an American couple were in fact Jews who were single and able to marry each other under Jewish law, and after learning the chief rabbinate was treating dozens of other Modern Orthodox rabbis in the same way as it was treating him, Rabbi Avi Weiss has struck back.
Weiss, who is perhaps the leading Modern Orthodox rabbi in America but who is controversial for his decision to broaden and deepen women’s communal leadership roles by ordaining them, called on the Government of Israel to break the chief rabbinate’s monopoly over Jewish religious affairs by recognizing Reform and Conservative marriages and conversions and by recognizing civil marriage, Ynet reported.
"As in America, it should be left to the general public – if they wish, in consultation with their local rabbis – to decide whether to accept or reject these conversions and wedding ceremonies.
“Such an open attitude is not only important for non-Orthodox Jewry, but for Orthodoxy as well. When Orthodoxy is presented as the only option, when it’s forced upon people, it turns people off. A spirit of openness will make Orthodoxy more attractive,” Weiss recently wrote.
Weiss has reportedly been joined by the liberal Zionist Orthodox movement Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah, the Shalom Hartman Institute and ITIM, which has worked for years to help secular Jews navigate the corruption, malfeasance and and cronyism that so dominates Israel’s haredi-controlled chief rabbinate.
Attorney Alan Dershowitz is reportedly helping Weiss and may represent Weiss and the others in a legal action against the Government of Israel.
"The issue here is not him or his dozens of friends, but how Orthodox rabbis from North America are approved and mainly not approved. There is no list of the recognized and unrecognized rabbis or any clear criteria. This entire issue is not regulated in the law. It's all being run like a shtiebel (communal Jewish prayer place),” Rabbi Dr. Shaul Farber, the head of ITIM and a friend of Weiss, told Ynet. Farber also noted that the crux of the issue is that the chief rabbinate views all rabbis with increasing suspicion until the rabbis are proved kosher, rather than viewing all Orthodox rabbis as kosher until proved otherwise. "It wasn't that way several years ago,” Farber continued. “The tone has changed. There is no problem that a certain rabbi is not recognized or that there are doubts about him. But instead of rejecting, why not talk to him, ask him for an ordination certificate and proof that he serves in an Orthodox institute?"
“It’s important to remember that the diversity is not just inside Orthodoxy. We are a people divided in its Jewishness, and it's unthinkable that there is one rabbinate representing all of us. If the State of Israel aspires to be the national home of the Jewish people, and not another neighborhood synagogue, it must internalize the need to appoint many chief rabbis who will properly reflect the religious diversity in the Jewish people, both in the State of Israel and around the world,” Rabbi Dr. Daniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, told Ynet.