I read with interest Rabbi Baum’s piece on the formation of the new lay-led Modern Orthodox organization, PORAT (“Do We Need Another Modern Orthodox Organization?” Opinion, March 25).
He asserted that the existing organizations, namely the RCA, are already inclusive and “seek to include all Jews in our communal institutions, regardless of their level of affiliation, gender, [and] sexual orientation … .”
It is disturbing that the president of a national rabbinic organization would look derisively at the growing desire for a more open big-tent Orthodoxy in the form of a lay-led organization. Do rabbis not have a responsibility to take seriously the voices of their members and not simply dismiss them as being divisive? Whom are they dividing if they are a lay organization representing their interests?
I found it ironic that Rabbi Baum would laud the inclusivity of the RCA when the first public act under his tenure was the adoption of yet another resolution excluding women from communal religious leadership.
Finally, as a rabbi with Orthodox ordination but excluded from consideration for membership in the RCA, I am personally troubled by the leader of the organization wishing to shape a public image of openness despite the facts on the ground. Is it not telling that when one examines the list of approved rabbinical schools for RCA membership, one is hard-pressed to find more than two that would be considered Modern Orthodox, while one of the most dynamic Modern Orthodox schools in the United States, YCT Rabbinical School, continues to be blacklisted? A compromise was made to accept Lubavitcher rabbis despite a strain of highly objectionable messianism within the Lubavitch community but no compromise in the name of inclusivity could be reached to include more than 100 passionate and idealistic young Modern Orthodox rabbis.
I remain hopeful that the vision Rabbi Baum articulated becomes true even while it is far from the actual reality today.