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Bee

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PostSubject: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:08 am

What is also the difference between liberal and modern orthodoxy? Google was not informative.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:52 pm

I actually have no idea. I've never heard of "liberal" Orthodoxy. Perhaps they are the same thing?


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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:16 pm

I don't know. My husband is meeting tonight with an Orthodox Rabbi in Baltimore who was mentored by Rabbi Avi Weiss. I asked a member of another forum about this shul and she mentioned the term. I never heard of it and tried Google but found no information on what it means.
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:55 pm

Maybe it is related to Modern Orthodox where they are a bit more liberal????
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:05 pm

Maybe but how can it be orthodox? It would mean conservative right? Who knows? This person is an orthodox Jew who used the term. I think its what she meant...modern orthodox. So then what's the difference between modern orthodox and conservative?
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:21 pm

This shul is the oldest orthodox congregation in Washington DC but the lead rabbi's mentor almost got kicked out of RCA for ordaining a female (Rabba) both of these rabbi's come from new york. This rabbi is the only rabbi willing to mentor my husband and to allow him to study Talmud with them. I am very excited to hear from my husband on their class and meeting he is having at this moment. I hope I can join a womens study group when I fly out there. I must admit I am now leaning towards women's rights to certain duties in the congregation but feel very comfortable with separating women and men so I'm a little confused on which direction best suits me.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:27 pm

I suppose I could tolerate being seated separately from the men (it's not like my husband goes to service with me), but I won't give up my right to read from Torah. (I am learning Hebrew so that I can do that very thing.) That, and I'm still entertaining the idea of becoming a rabbi one day. I don't see why my lack of a penis should bar me from that possibility.

If anything, you would think women would be encouraged to be rabbis, given that the traditional POV is that women are more spiritual than men. Some rabbis hold that the reason why women do not have to do most positive (AKA time-consuming) mitzvot is because they don't need them in order to retain their spirituality; men, on the other hand, have to constantly work on theirs.

Yes, women have traditionally been in the home, taking care of the children (which isn't a concern for me), but men were also expected to work to provide for the family, so I don't see why he can study around his work schedule but a woman can't.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:03 pm

Liberal Orthodoxy, or modern Orthodoxy? As we know there are different streams of Orthodoxy. I also want to interject that Orthodoxy is not the only way to be Jewish and there can be Orthodox who are more liberal leaning in their understanding of Halacha.

I do not like segregation in religion. I think that we as women should stand up and not be invisible. When I go to an orthodox service I feel invisible. We need to have women Rabbis. We need to read from Torah and to study and to stand on the bema in our shuls.

We need to have our voices heard.

Sorry if I sound adamant but in light of what is happening in Israel with gender segregation I feel really strongly about this.

I recently went to a talk by Anat Hoffman who is a leader in fighting against gender segregation in Israel and she was such a powerful speaker.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:42 pm

I really really understand your point of view and are against women at the back of the bus thing. I do feel men and women should study apart and family functions in congregation should not be. I don't know how to feel about segregation during service I have never been separated from my husband but feel it may be a good thing? I am comfortable with that, I grew up in an environment that was similar but I do believe in women's rights. I am conflicted on certain aspects like head covers for women at all times I feel it should be only during prayer. I like having a voice but get intimidated also, at home my hubby and I get into serious discussions and he always tells me I better not ever stop questioning him or anyone. He bought me a book about a journey of a orthodox feminist who wants to be a rabbi I think,and he encourages me to be a feminist now which is funny because for so many years it was opposite and a pastor who visited my home asked me to be more submissive to my husband. Right now we are trying out orthodoxy because its what we are used to, he went last night and fell in love with the people. He felt like it is a place for us. He told me women where in both groups the Rabbi's who was teaching the weekly parsha and the scholars teaching Talmud. Some had their hair covered and some not. I was surprised because they do say they are orthodox but I was told women cannot be in mix classes? So he told them i will be joining him in study classes and they are excited to meet me which is awesome. We have been turned down so many times I was just grateful the rabbi allowed him to attend class. It is a start for us and it was his first orthodox visit and will be mine as well. We went to a reform for sukkot but felt it was too liberal. In time we will find the right one for us. This orthodox shul is out of state but will attend for a year until my husband's job relocates him back home.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:44 pm

Mychal wrote:

Yes, women have traditionally been in the home, taking care of the children (which isn't a concern for me), but men were also expected to work to provide for the family, so I don't see why he can study around his work schedule but a woman can't.

When I asked a Chabad Rabbi about it he said it was a matter of modesty. This is also what I have gotten from other sources. Having a woman stand in front of the congregation, lead the congregation, etc is not considered modest. We can agree or disagree but the family at home situation is not the only reason it's prohibited in Orthodox communities.


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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:49 pm

Bee wrote:
Right now we are trying out orthodoxy because its what we are used to, he went last night and fell in love with the people. He felt like it is a place for us. He told me women where in both groups the Rabbi's who was teaching the weekly parsha and the scholars teaching Talmud. Some had their hair covered and some not. I was surprised because they do say they are orthodox but I was told women cannot be in mix classes?

There is quite a bit of variation within the Orthodox movement. It's very possible you will be able to find something that is right for both of you within that movement. If I were you, when you are able, I would visit several Orthodox communities to get a feel of the atmosphere and how they operate.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:58 pm

It was the only orthodox congregation that gave my husband a response and the time of day. Most don't respond at all to him even if we offer proof we went in front of a beit din from Isreal and have the documents signed that we are Bnei Noach. That is why at thus point if they are willing to accept us I can just rejoice and ask questions later ;-) we have to start somewhere and learn from them the family structure and ways of living.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:38 pm

Bee, I don't think all Rabbis are really into the B'nai Noach thing so it may not make a difference to them. When you husband contacts a Rabbi does he mention you want to convert or does he only say you want to study?

Also, you often have to contact the Rabbi more than once. It lets them know you are serious. If you ask once and then don't push it...they may not respond.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:30 pm

We let them know ahead of time that we are not Jewish so they don't error on assuming we are messies or Jewish. My husband is very busy but spends waking hours studying Torahs and just wants a mentor and guiding Rabbi to make sure he is studying and interpreting correctly in person versus online and webex. We want to join a community. Conversion is something in the future and have come to embrace that it takes time. Right now it is 6 months since we left xtianity so we need to not make it a race, but when we do we have established a Jewish community behind us as Noahides or as a Jewish couple.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:21 pm

I can understand a Rabbis hesitancy to teach Torah or especially Talmud to a couple who isn't Jewish and isn't approaching them about conversion. Will you be also going with your husband to Baltimore?
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:14 pm

Check adult learning opportunities at synagogues and/or the local Jewish community center. My old Reform synagogue had a Torah study class every Saturday morning that people from other denominations sometimes joined. There was no rule that only Jews could attend; I certainly went to plenty.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:35 am

Getting back to the original post:
Bee wrote:
What is also the difference between liberal and modern orthodoxy? Google was not informative.

Since Rabbi Avi Weiss was mentioned, I think that what you mean by "liberal orthodoxy" is what R. Weiss calls "Open Orthodoxy". It means Modern Orthodox in core beliefs and practices, but open-minded, and open to change in some aspects of Jewish life and ritual, particularly when it is a case of "minhag" (custom) rather than actual Halacha (Jewish Law).

I have followed that group with interest and I personally know three Orthodox rabbis who were ordained by the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School which was founded by R. Weiss. The YCT website says:
Quote :
We at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School (YCT) believe that the future of Orthodoxy depends on our becoming a movement that expands outward non-dogmatically and cooperatively to encompass the needs of the larger Jewish community and the world. For this vision to succeed, we require a new breed of leaders - rabbis who are open, non-judgmental, knowledgeable, empathetic, and eager to transform Orthodoxy into a movement that meaningfully and respectfully interacts with all Jews, regardless of affiliation, commitment, or background.
I have to say that the YCT rabbis I know certainly reflect all of the above. Detractors criticize YCT rabbis as not being knowledgeable about Jewish law, and obviously I can't judge that myself, but I find it hard to take the criticisms seriously when the critics invariably start with such biased negative opinions that it is clear that they expect YCT rabbis to lack knowledge and are just looking for justification for that view.

One of R. Weiss's most controversial actions was to essentially ordain a woman, Sara Hurwitz, as a rabbi even though he gave her a different title: more recently changed to "Rabba" after the first acronym title didn't "take". There are four women currently enrolled in a program to train them to essentially be female Orthodox rabbis along the same model as Rabba Sara Hurwitz. This and the fact that a woman was allowed to lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service at his synagogue has lead some hard-line Orthodox rabbis to declare that R. Weiss and his followers are "not Orthodox". Some call him "Conservative" where that is meant to be used as a a type of name-calling since the Conservative Movement is generally looked down upon and disparaged in the Orthodox world.

YCT rabbis were not accepted into the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the largest Modern and "Centrist" (non-Haredi, but somewhat "right-wing") Orthodox organization of rabbis of North America, so they formed their own "Rabbinic Fellowship". A few RCA rabbis have also joined the Rabbinic Fellowship. R. Weiss himself continues to be a RCA member, although things have been tense and I keep wondering if they will eventually kick him out.

One of the interesting aspects of YCT training is an emphasis on pastoral care. Seems like a good idea to me since that is an important aspect of the jobs for most pulpit rabbis and those who teach or work as hospital chaplains. And the YCT rabbis I know are indeed very warm and caring individuals.

Open Orthodoxy is less insular than other branches of Orthodoxy. Its rabbis are more willing to become involved in activities with non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews.

Now for my own admittedly biased views:
As Modern Orthodox Jews have moved to the "right" (according to Jews I know who have lived in the MO world for 50+ years) and as observance levels in the Conservative movement have decreased, a gap between MO and C Judaism has developed whereas there used to be some overlap between the two movements (and I know a few people who grew up in "mixed" Orthodox-Conservative households). I think the OO movement is good addition to the "left"-most edge of MO which seems to have nothing to keep it from continuing its rightward slide since MO Jews feel pressure to conform to ever stricter "standards".
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:30 am

Wow Debbie that is alot to process. I had never heard of liberal much less open orthodoxy. There is alot of confusion on my part. So each category has sub categories? Heredi or Orthodoxy can be-liberal, open, modern, right wing left wing, conservative, reform, reconstructionist? So what would be a view closest to mine if I believe women should not be treated like the plague but human beings, who can participate and be modest, where men don't think women should be at the back of a bus, blamed for provocation because a man is mentally weak, but in times of study women and men should be separated for the purpose of learning and discussing womens or mens issues? I don't think all shul programs need to be coed, but hair covering are not required unless in prayer, wearing wigs to hide hair is nonsense, and both genders can pray and sing at services? Ah, no sentence structure! But is there such a place? The book I am reading called Life on the Fringes and its good so far, a real eye opener. My husband thinks civil laws need to be changed and updated, the author seems to say it too but indirectly.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:52 am

You can find your beliefs in Conservative Judaism. Don't judge the whole movement by what you may see at particular synagogues, particularly the fact that in many Conservative synagogues these days most of the members are quite non-observant. And don't believe Orthodox Jews who claim that only Orthodox Jews are observant. The truth of the matter is that many Orthodox Jews don't know many non-Orthodox Jews very well anyway. Quite a few my minyan friends would not call themselves "Orthodox", and yet lead more observant lives than some members of Orthodox synagogues that I know, except that my minyan friends pray in a congregation with no mechitza and which allows women in all roles. My friends are strictly Shomer Shabbat and Kashrut. As an example, not only do they not drive on Shabbat, but they do not even turn lights on/off on Shabbat. Some of them have sent their kids to the Orthodox high school, where the kids fit in just fine because their families' lifestyle is basically Orthodox. On the other hand, Conservative congregations where observant members are the majority (like mine) are quite rare.

But there is more to a movement than observance. There are some differences in belief. The key difference between Conservative and Orthodox belief is that most Conservative Jews believe that Torah came from God (at Sinai), but Talmud, although divinely inspired, was developed later and by people, rather than also being given at Sinai (and simply written down later). [That this is the major difference in belief is not just my opinion, but is what the R. Telushkin (who is Orthodox) says in his book "Jewish LIteracy". Great book---my sponsoring rabbi recommended it to me and I highly recommend it in turn.] (There are also some Conservative Jews who have even less traditional beliefs, but those are not always in keeping with the official doctrine of the movement.) This understanding of Talmud is what gives rise to Conservative rabbis using minority Talmud opinions to support new and non-traditional interpretations.

If by "both genders can pray and sing at services" you are satisfied with women praying along, but never leading, then some of the more progressive Modern Orthodox groups will also work for you although there are fewer and fewer MO women who resist increasing pressure to cover their hair at all times (often done with a baseball cap or bandana for non-Haredi women). I personally find it depressing however that even in fairly progressive MO synagogues, the women's section is often nearly empty. There are also a handful of "partnership minyanim" which are Orthodox in ritual and have a mechitza, but allow women more participation than in traditional Orthodox synagogues---they allow women to do some or all of: lead certain (non-mandated) services (such as Kabbalat Shabbat and P'sukei D'Zimra), chant Torah and Haftarah, take an Aliyah. However, these "partnership minyanim" are all independent and lay-led, and are branded as "not Orthodox" by most Orthodox Jews.

There is a partnership minyan in my town, but I have not attended its services although I did participate in a joint learning session that it did with my "tiny minyan" one Shavuot a couple of years ago. I discovered to my surprise that rather than being a bunch of super-progressive Orthodox Jews, they were mostly observant Conservative Jews who wanted to return to some of the more traditional rules. They send their kids to the Conservative day school rather than one of the two Orthodox day schools in my town.

However, you will not find much support for laws being "changed and updated" in MO synagogues, although I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that.

By the way, outside of the US, "liberal Judaism" is the label often used to refer to non-Orthodox movements. Those groups are typically rather small outside the US. They are often similar to a combination between US Reform and Conservative.

My advice, as always, is that you should try to avoid deciding that a particular group is completely right before learning a lot about all the other groups. Be especially wary of negative things that someone from one group tells you about another group. There is a lot of misunderstanding between Jewish groups and lots of belief in incorrect rumors and stereotypes. I am very lucky (IMHO) to have friends in all different Jewish movements and I have sometimes found that some of my understandings about those groups were incorrect.


Last edited by Debbie B. on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:16 am

Debbie blessings to you my friend thank you. This really answered questions that I didn't know I had.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:00 am

Debbie's post on this thread are excellent! When I first read the original post I also thought "I've heard of 'Open-Orthodoxy'...but not 'Liberal Orthodoxy'".

I am not very familiar with the "official" delineations between (and within) Jewish moviements...nor am I particularly interested in learning them. I used to live in a neighborhood that has 10 synagogues; 8 of them Orthodox. At first it was bewildering to decide what the difference was between one synagogue vs. the next. I focused on their hashkafah (outlook) and tried to find the best fit. Well ultimately I gave that up...and ended up going to a Young Israel shul (after I had heard a lot of criticism about the Young Israel/Modern Orthodox movement); mainly because I had friends their and could relate to the Rabbi.

Although the synagogue that I attend now is egalitarian, personally I'm not a big fan of egaliatrianism within Judaism. I am fine with the mechitza, hair coverings, and with only men being Rabbis. What bothers me more is intolerance. My perfect shul would be one that is respectful to those who want to be more observant...even to the point of being "fanatics" -- as well as being respectful to those who aren't fully shomer Shabbos or Kashrut. While it is true that the Rabbi/community should set some sort of standard...the truth is, Jewish living has always existed on a spectrum. I know of many people who are active members of Orthodox synagogues...and not fully shomer Shabbos or Kashrut. But some Orthodox synagogues (sadly more and more) are becoming intolerant of such people; by refusing them synagogue honors like aliyot and not allowing them to be on the synagogue board.
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PostSubject: Re: What is liberal orthodoxy?   Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:04 pm

I think that it ought to be that we are accepting to all branches. As converts we do not need to get into the my branch is right and the others are not. We already face that from the larger Jewish community. We face that from those who are born Jewish.

We ought to know about and have a correct understanding of the other Jewish movements and understand that there is a large spectrum that is Judaism and Jewish practice.

We ought to understand that there is not a one size fits all in Judaism.



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