The membership of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, has resolved to educate and inform our community that RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not: 1. Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used. 2. Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution. 3. Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution.
Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) passed several resolutions at it recent convention. Here are two of them, one against the ordination of women as rabbis, the other against racism.
Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of "RCA Policy Concerning Women Rabbis" states:
- Whereas, after much deliberation and discussion among its membership and after consultation with poskim, the Rabbinical Council of America unanimously passed the following convention resolution at its April 2010 convention:
- The flowering of Torah study and teaching by God-fearing Orthodox women in recent decades stands as a significant achievement. The Rabbinical Council of America is gratified that our members have played a prominent role in facilitating these accomplishments.
- We members of the Rabbinical Council of America see as our sacred and joyful duty the practice and transmission of Judaism in all of its extraordinary, multifaceted depth and richness - halakhah (Jewish law), hashkafah (Jewish thought), tradition and historical memory.
- In light of the opportunity created by advanced women's learning, the Rabbinical Council of America encourages a diversity of halakhically and communally appropriate professional opportunities for learned, committed women, in the service of our collective mission to preserve and transmit our heritage. Due to our aforesaid commitment to sacred continuity, however, we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.
- Young Orthodox women are now being reared, educated, and inspired by mothers, teachers and mentors who are themselves beneficiaries of advanced women's Torah education. As members of the new generation rise to positions of influence and stature, we pray that they will contribute to an ever-broadening and ever-deepening wellspring of talmud Torah (Torah study), yir'at Shamayim (fear of Heaven), and dikduk b'mitzvot (scrupulous observance of commandments).
- And whereas on May 7, 2013, the RCA announced: In light of the recent announcement that Yeshivat Maharat will celebrate the "ordination as clergy" of its first three graduates, and in response to the institution's claim that it "is changing the communal landscape by actualizing the potential of Orthodox women as rabbinic leaders," the Rabbinical Council of America reasserts its position as articulated in its resolution of April 27, 2010... The RCA views this event as a violation of our mesorah (tradition) and regrets that the leadership of the school has chosen a path that contradicts the norms of our community.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
- Resolves to educate and inform our community that RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not
- Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or
- Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or
- Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution; and,
- Commits to an educational effort to publicize its policy by:
- Republishing its policies on this matter; and,
- Clearly communicating and disseminating these policies to its members and the community.
This resolution does not concern or address non-rabbinic positions such as Yoatzot Halacha, community scholars, Yeshiva University's GPATS, and non-rabbinic school teachers. So long as no rabbinic or ordained title such as "Maharat" is used in these positions, and so long as there is no implication of ordination or a rabbinic status, this resolution is inapplicable.
- Whereas the Bible teaches that all humans share one heavenly Father who created us in His Image (cf. Genesis 1:27, 5:1, and Malachi 2:10); and
- Whereas the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5) teaches that God created Man as one individual human being to promote harmony among people, so that no one can claim that his origins are superior to those of another person; and, that God's Greatness is manifest in the diverse and unique appearances of His creatures; and
- Whereas the Jewish people began its history as a persecuted, enslaved people, and is repeatedly adjured by God to remember its lowly origins and to be kind to others in similar circumstances; and
- Whereas the Jewish people has experienced both great acceptance as well as significant discrimination in the United States and, more broadly, has a continuous history as a persecuted minority; and
- Whereas the centuries-old American problem of white racism against African Americans continues to be a disgraceful, explosive contemporary reality, with both overt and insidious manifestations
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
- Reaffirms its absolute condemnation of racist speech and deeds; and
- Encourages its members to
- protest, in the name of Torah ideals, manifestations of racism in the societies in which they live; and,
- create public events which create, foster, or deepen amity between Jewish and African-American communities; and,
- embrace, proactively and warmly, Jews of all racial backgrounds in their communities; and,
- identify and combat manifestations of racism which may occasionally occur in the communities they lead; and,
- calls upon all people to combat the pernicious scourge of racism in any way they can.