By Jenni Frazer, Jewish Chronicle of England
The largest rabbinic public policy organisation in America has collected 1,500 signatories on a letter backing Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis over his position on a newly ordained female rabbi who was dropped from her teaching role at the London School of Jewish Studies.
Rabba Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz was removed from LSJS – whose president is Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis – after she received ordination from Yeshivat Maharat, a New York-based institution which runs courses of Torah study on Orthodox lines.
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In the letter organised by the Coalition for Jewish Values, the 1500 signatories praised the Chief Rabbi for “maintaining Torah standards in Jewish education in the face of pressure from progressive activists”.
However, it mistakenly claimed that Rabbi Mirvis had “dismissed” Dr Taylor-Guthartz after she received ordination.
In a statement alongside the letter, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the CJV president, deplored Yeshivat Maharat, which he said was affiliated with the “Open Orthodoxy” movement. He insisted: “Open Orthodoxy is not Orthodox, and that reality will not change, no matter how much the ideological movement and its allied, progressive media outlets and activists claim otherwise.”
In its letter to Rabbi Mirvis, the CJV wrote: “No Orthodox rabbis have officiated at same-sex weddings, have ordained women, or have ‘revisited’ whether the Torah was given by G-d to Moses. No Orthodox rabbi ever shall, and any reports to the contrary serve no purpose other than to misrepresent authentic Torah Judaism”.
Among the signatories to that December statement were several British rabbis: Rabbi Doniel Grunewald of Gateshead; Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag of Manchester and Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Guttentag of London; Rabbi David Rose of Edgware; Rabbi Rashi Simon of London; Rabbi Dovid Tugendhaft of London; and Rabbi Aharon Zerbib of London.
Rabbi Avrohom Gardiner, director of the CJV’s “Rabbinic Circle”, observed: “No one can blame the Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue, or CJV for ‘rejecting’ Open Orthodoxy.“Open Orthodoxy fails to meet the neutral and objective standards for practice and belief found in Torah, Talmud, and Jewish law—and thus there isn’t a single credible rabbinic organisation anywhere that accepts it as ‘Orthodox.’ As Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Mirvis is expected to uphold fealty to Torah, and any opprobrium directed his way for his decision is inappropriate.”