Regarding Rabbi Shalom Baum’s Opinion column, “Do We Need Another Modern Orthodox Organization?” (March 25), the resounding answer is, unfortunately, yes.
Most of us are familiar with a number of Orthodox rabbis, some even with ordination from the Israeli Rabbanut, whose membership to the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) was denied merely because of their affiliation with organizations that do not have RCA approval. Rabbi Baum’s unequivocal contention that “those who advocate for such unprecedented practices have, perhaps unintentionally, divided the community,” shows a surprising and troubling lack of self-reflection on the part of the RCA.
Surely Rabbi Baum, president of the RCA, must understand that new organizations arise to meet the unmet needs of a diverse but committed Orthodox community — needs that the RCA has refused to address. He states that by “resisting these innovations, we are preserving the norms of the community, which is what we are licensed to do.” But that flies in the face of rich halachic tradition that has, for generations, grappled with how to address the needs of an ever-evolving Jewish community.
When the RCA takes it upon itself to address these needs and opens its arms to the full spectrum of Orthodoxy, rather than turning its back on those with diverging views, alternative Orthodox organizations will no longer be necessary.
President, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance)