“Our first loyalty is to the truth.” – The NY Jewish Week.
I hate to be provincial, but I was really a bit disappointed when Ner-David’s story, the story of how a non-Orthodox woman granted non-smicha to become a non-rabbi was heralded as a landmark achievement for Jewish feminism within Orthodoxy in the Jerusalem PostÂ instead of in the UJA’sÂ absolutely independent NY Jewish Week, whose stable of writers includes Deborah Nussbaum Cohen and Elicia Brown, to whom virtually all “gender” stories are assigned.
So I am pleased that this week’s Jewish Week features a similarÂ story aboutÂ K.O.E.’s hiringÂ of Dina Najman-Licht for an essentially rabbinical position. K.O.E. isÂ a
Conservative post-denominational synagogue’s that broke from the JTS in 1983.
Look who she is replacing:
Rabbi Weiss Halivni, the founding spiritual leader of KOE, reflects its blend of tradition and innovation. Trained and ordained in Orthodox yeshivas in Europe, he was a professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary before leaving over the Conservative movement’s decision to ordain women.
So what does this prove about Orthodoxy? Why obviously, everything!
Elicia Brown reports,
“KOE has confirmed the arrival of women to places of leadership in the Orthodox community,” said Devorah Zlochower, a dean at Drisha, an Upper West Side institution for women’s study of Jewish texts.
“This is something we have been hoping for and pushing for,” said Carol Newman, the president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, which will mark its 10th anniversary in February.[…] Jonathan Sarna, a keen observer of American Jewish life, sees the decision as “part of a larger trend in Orthodoxy of pushing the boundaries.
Of course, a “keen observer” would also note that, once again, Orthodoxy is being defined by Jewish media not by the Orthodox themselves, but by developments at congregationsÂ definitively outside of Orthodoxy.Â Again, to be clear — no matter who attends their vegetarian Friday night potluck dinners, K.O.E. it is a break off of the Conservative Movement.Â It is not Orthodox, it was never Orthodox,Â nor does it claim to be.Â
So all this discussion about what Najman-Licht’s hiring means for Orthodox Judaism is not merely speculative, but based on nothing specifically Orthodox.
Beyond this specific issue, I have to wonder if it is simply too much to even hope for honesty on any issue where the Jewish Week’sÂ editors have an agenda.Â This is a newspaper which, at its core, attempts toÂ submerge itsÂ relationship with and implicit obligation to promote the UJA, and therefore promote the preferred views of the Jewish establishment’s donor base by suggesting they haveÂ a broader appeal and acceptance than they do, be they left or right, or (as these views are always presented) — center.