Open Orthodoxy

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Open Orthodox rabbis further radicalize left-wing Orthodoxy

Before Simchas Torah, I received an email that contained the following:
We [Kidma] are proud to announce that all men and women will have an opportunity to be called to the Torah on Simchat Torah.
If you have any questions regarding this, contact Rabbi Kleinberg at
I contacted Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, rabbi of the Open Orthodox Kidma synagogue with following email message:
I received an email that you are offering aliyos for men and women on Simchas Torah. Per the email, I am contacting you for further information.
As a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, I am intrigued by the idea of aliyos for men and women. What will be the aliyos procedure for men and women? For example, separate Torah readings or mixed?

A general this the direction that Kidma is moving in:
Rabbi Kleinberg did not respond to me. I confirmed with a couple of Kidma Simchas Torah attendees that women read and were called to the Torah on the women's side of the sanctuary. Kidma has one main sanctuary separated by a mechitza. If someone would like to provide me with a detailed description, please send it to me via blog comments.

Rabbi Kleinberg distributed a hand-out, titled "Women, Torah Reading and the Dignity of the Congregation: A Halachic Analysis". It referenced Talmud, Shulchan Oruch and other sources. His source material was clearly extracted from the following sources:
- Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity - Hebrew
- Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity - English
- Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis

"Women's Krias HaTorah" is only one of the non-normative Orthodox practices that Rabbi Kleinberg has instituted in his Open Orthodox congregation.

Kidma's non-normative Orthodox practices include:
  • Replacing the three "shelo asani" brochos with "Se'asani Yisrael"

  • Before Torah reading, a woman carries the Torah onto the women’s side of the mechitza

  • The Bima is located on the men’s side of the mechitza but beyond the end-point of the mechitza

  • The Baal Koreh reads the Torah facing the congregation with his back to the Aron (Ark)
Kidma's practices are not unique. It appears that Rabbi Avi Weiss' (Rabbi Kleinberg's mentor) congregration (HIR) recently had a Kallat Torah and Kallat Bereishit (presumably on Simchas Torah). This is not surprising, considering that HIR has instituted extensive Women's Tefillah.

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky (another Rabbi Weiss protege) also has a woman carry the Torah onto the women’s side of the mechitza before his congregation's Torah reading.

Orthodox rabbis that I have spoken with believe that "Open Orthodox" synagogues will eventually become Shira Hadasha congregations/Partnership Minyanim. From what I've seen first-hand, I can't say that I disagree.

Aside from non-normative Orthodox religious practices, Rabbi Weiss proteges also profess radical left-wing hashkafa (ideology). That has been and will be addressed in future blog posts.

I find it intriguing that the Orthodox Union (HIR is an OU congregation) and the Rabbinical Council of America (contemplating YCT membership) have not yet either publicly embraced or repudiated "Open Orthodoxy" and its adherents.

Relevant links:
- Women, Simhat Torah, & Drew
- Quick Musing On Simhas Torah
- What's wrong with the women?
- Women's Prayer Groups: Rav Soloveitchik's Position
- Women and communal Torah reading - I

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