The Orthodox Union (OU) this week issued a new ruling banning female clergy completely — except for allowing women to teach Torah, offer pastoral counseling, work with youth and do community outreach.
Moshe Babe, president of the OU, noted that “this ban, which is either the fourth or eighth in recent years, is based on extensive and painstaking research and analysis and is now focused on whether women serving in synagogues should be called Rabba, Rabbah, Rabbu, Rabbanit, Robabank or just Hey, You.”
He noted that one minority opinion calls for naming all women clergy Rose, as in “Rose, what’s the name of the woman clergy member of our synagogue who is delivering the sermon on Shabbat as well as the Talmud study and leading the youth group but isn’t really a rabbi?”
(Seeking to show that the OU is responsive to calls for liberalizing its positions, Babe noted that the group’s rabbinic leaders have determined that brain-dead women can lead Kabbalat Shabbat services.)
In the end, Babe said the OU concluded that titles for women requires further study and scrutiny by the finest male Talmudic minds of the day, whose results will be announced “approximately 30 days after the Moshiach arrives.”
“Rashi asks that same question.”
Babe sought to clarify the latest (No. 9?) OU ban on women, which is based on halacha but allows synagogues with women clergy to remain within the organization for at least three years. He was asked if, based on the new ruling, member synagogues would be given a three-year grace period before the OU removed its hechsher (seal of approval) if an in-house caterer was serving traife food or if the OU learned that a product or restaurant it certifies is found to not be kosher.
Babe’s only response was, “Rashi asks that same question.”
He also announced the creation of a committee to deal with sexual abuse in OU institutions, to be known as Orthodox Union Committee on Harassment (OUCH), which prohibits treating women more disrespectfully than necessary. The new Double Look protocol calls for first looking into alleged misbehavior and then looking the other way.
Babe said the group plans to honor First Lady Melania Trump with its National Negiah (No Touching) Award at its inaugural luncheon, citing her highly publicized slaps of her husband when he has tried to hold her hand in public.
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