Open Orthodoxy

Where Open Orthodoxy Ends: Your final destination for open review of fringe Orthodox Judaism. If you have comments, send them to

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ad finem

The previous topic of interdenominational pluralism brings me full-circle to the core reason I started examining Open Orthodoxy. A year ago, I never heard of Open Orthodoxy, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, or the name Rabbi Avi Weiss (except maybe in some reference to Soviet Jewry). At that time, I read in the local Jewish newspaper that a local "Open Orthodox" rabbi, Rabbi Darren Kleinberg (spiritual leader of Kidma) joined the faculty of a pluralistic kollel, called Kol-El.

Kol-El was founded by a rabbi (Reform) who wrote a scathing sermon about "Jewish fundamentalists". That sermon was well-known by local Orthodox leadership. In my opinion, that sermon was an affront to all Orthodox Jews. At the Shabbos grand opening of the Kidma storefront shul, to my dismay, I personally saw Kidma's non-normative "Orthodox" practices and publicly heard Rabbi Kleinberg declare the Kol-El founder (who was in attendance) as his mentor. I entered Kidma because of curiosity. I exited with a strong belief in principle #6 of the Open Orthodox Creed: Public Protest.

Before attending the grand opening of the Kidma shul, I approached multiple "Open Orthodox" related parties with my concerns of Orthodox participation in Kol-El, but to no avail. I also know others who attempted to reconcile the local issues with Open Orthodoxy. Their result was no different. Initially, I was cautiously hopeful (or maybe naive) that issues with Open Orthodoxy were resolvable - as illustrated in my letter to the editor about the Kidma grand opening, KiDMa shakes things up in Phoenix:
Although I staunchly disagree with some of KiDMa's shul practices (e.g. Torah reading facing congregation) and Rabbi Kleinberg's alliance with non-Orthodox denominations, I praise Rabbi Kleinberg for doing something.
I do not feel that way today.

Based on my experience, research, and personal perspective, I have come to believe that Open Orthodoxy is quite closed. When you profess ideology that is not Orthodox and adopt extreme non-normative Orthodox practices, you have severed and closed yourself from Orthodoxy. Why bother to label yourself Orthodox? Why mislead?

Maintaining this blog has been time-consuming, as I stated in Winding down. I have completed my initial list of topics that I felt were important to discuss, so I am, im yirtza Hashem, done. If someone truly has the urge to continue this blog, please contact me at We can discuss it. I encourage readers to review the following YCT links on a regular basis:
- YCT Home page (lists dvar Torahs on the weekly parsha)
- Parshat HaShavuah
- Newsletter
- Alumni
- In the press
- You can Google the names listed at the following pages: Alumni, Administration, Faculty

There is plenty of information I haven't posted: provocative divrei Torah, controversial hashkafa and halacha, former Open Orthodox participants, unwarranted publicity hounding, and more. I leave it as an exercise for you, the reader, to investigate further. As Rabbi Saul J. Berman says "We must shine a light of truth on the corruption around us."1

In a disturbing dvar Torah about Chanukah, Ari Weiss (YCT '07) asks rhetorically "Do we speak a language of war of a clash of civilization, or of light, of enlightenment?"2

In honor of Chanukah starting tonight... in protest against all modern manifestations of the ancient Yevanim...I say "Be all that you can Maccabee."

Good Shabbos, freiliche Chanukah.
Good night, and good luck.

1 The Pope, Islam, and Chanukah 12/14/2006
2 Chanukah Revisited: A Festival of Light or a Festival of War? 12/14/2006; enlightenment link added by me