Rabbi Avi Weiss, the maverick Modern Orthodox spiritual leader who has distanced himself from that movement in recent decades by forming his own “Open Orthodox” rabbinical school and ordaining women, this week cut his ties with Modern Orthodoxy’s mainstream rabbinical group in protest.
In a message he emailed on Monday to the media, Rabbi Weiss stated that he has not paid his dues to the Rabbinical Council of America, and “allowed my membership to lapse.”
Rabbi Weiss, who has served at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale since 1973, and founded the Chovevei Torah yeshiva in 2000, said he was taking the step “as an act of protest” because the RCA has not admitted rabbis ordained by his institution into membership.
“In recent years … I have struggled with many positions the RCA has taken,” Rabbi Weiss said in an email message to The Jewish Week – “Its centralization of rabbinic authority vis-a-vis conversion; its opposition to women’s semicha; its failure to issue a public statement on behalf of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin in his recent brouhaha with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.”
“I believe Avi made every effort to work from within, but as Orthodoxy has drifted rightward, he, like Yitz Greenberg before him, felt increasingly marginalized,” Steven Bayme, national director of the American Jewish Committee’s contemporary Jewish life department, told The Jewish Week. Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg is a Modern Orthodox scholar whose positions have often differed with the rightwing of Orthodoxy.