A short letter is not the forum to evaluate the cogency of the highly debatable arguments made by Rabbi Avi Shafran in his sharp critique of the Open Orthodox segment of Modern Orthodoxy (“Denominational Déjà Vu,” Opinion, Dec. 4)
As someone who identifies simply as Modern Orthodox and who is a member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF) I do, however, want to correct an error that emerged both in the recent statements of the rabbinic leadership of Agudath Israel and in Rabbi Shafran’s piece in relation to the IRF.
The IRF does not represent Open Orthodoxy nor is it an arm of Open Orthodoxy. Though it was informally founded by Rabbis Avi Weiss and Marc Angel close to a decade ago, it today has a diverse membership of over 200 members that includes rabbis, communal scholars, and educators who are graduates of a wide range of yeshivot and learning programs in the U.S. and Israel.
The members of the IRF include members who identify with different elements of Orthodoxy. A sizable minority of members of the IRF are also members of other rabbinic organizations such as the RCA, Beit Hillel and Tzohar. The IRF does not issue rabbinic rulings or mandates.
Thus the discussion in Rabbi Shafran’s essay about halachic methodology and outlook is particularly irrelevant.
One of the few halachic requirements that we have pushed for in our short history is actually a halachic stringency — i.e. that members of the IRF must use a halachic pre-nuptial agreement at each and every wedding they officiate at so as to end the scourge of the modern-day agunah.