Violating Orthodox Law and Custom, Dividing Our Community

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We, the undersigned rabbis, representing three generations of American Orthodox leadership, are deeply concerned at the many ways in which Open Orthodox rabbis and leaders have divided the Orthodox community by unilaterally violating normative Orthodox laws, customs and traditions.

Of the many points in Rabbi Asher Lopatin's opinion piece ("Orthodox and here to stay"), to which many people will take exception, one point in particular cries out for clarification because the future of Rabbi Lopatin’s movement hinges upon it. Rabbi Lopatin, president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and a leading standard-bearer for Open Orthodoxy, decries the "flurry of activity recently within some ultra-Orthodox circles to try to declare that elements of the Orthodox community are no longer part of the Orthodox world."

All of us are members in good standing or identify with the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization associated with the Orthodox mainstream. We are devoted to bringing people closer to tradition through authentic Torah teaching and practice, not to reading people out of it.

But if Open Orthodoxy's leaders feel some distance developing between themselves and mainstream Orthodoxy, they should not be blaming others. They might consider how they themselves have plunged ahead, again and again, across the border that divides Orthodoxy from neo-Conservatism. Why are they surprised to find themselves on the wrong side of a dividing line?

Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein
Rabbi Heshy Blumstein
Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin
Rabbi Chaim Crupar
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein
Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman
Rabbi Dov Fischer
Rabbi Arie Folger
Rabbi Cary Friedman
Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel
Rabbi Shaul Gold
Rabbi Jay H. Goldberg
Rabbi Chaim Goldberger
Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
Rabbi Howard Katzenstein
Rabbi Hillel Klavan
Rabbi Eric Kotkin
Rabbi Louis Langer
Rabbi Phil Lefkowitz
Rabbi Yaakov Luban
Rabbi Jacob B. Mendelson
Rabbi Yerachmiel Morrison
Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin
Rabbi Gidon Rothstein
Rabbi Larry Rothwachs
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld
Rabbi Dov Schreier
Rabbi Max Schreier
Rabbi David Shabtai, M.D.
Rabbi Shmuel Singer
Rabbi Zecharia Sionit
Rabbi Leonard Steinberg
Rabbi Gil Student
Rabbi Neal Turk
Rabbi Yaakov Wasser
Rabbi Elisha Weiss 

A detail of the world's oldest complete scroll of the Torah.Credit: Reuters

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