Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024

The RCA Election Results: More Questions Than Answers

Last month, the Yated reported that the Rabbinical Council of America was holding annual elections for its officers and Executive Committee members. The Yated article revealed that, in contrast to a Jewish Week article on the subject, the core issues of the RCA elections were organizational governance and the RCA's role as it moves forward. The RCA's stance toward the new Open Orthodox movement is part of this equation. (Recently published letters to the editor in the Yated from RCA members further evidenced the veracity of the Yated article's analysis.)

In an unprecedented move, a slate of well over a dozen RCA members who were not nominated by the RCA Nominating Committee to run for office declared their candidacy for almost every open position, getting themselves onto the RCA elections ballot via petition, and contesting the official Nomination Committee candidates. Whereas, normally, the Nominating Committee basically decides who fills the RCA’s leadership positions and who runs the organization, these candidates who were nominated by petition challenged the system and decided to run a grassroots campaign without the backing of the RCA’s leadership – leadership which was automatically placed on the ballot (by the RCA Nominating Committee) for reelection without challenge. Now, the official Nominating Committee slate was duly given a run for its money.


The Yated has learned that only one of the challengers was victorious against the Nominating Committee incumbents. While this may otherwise appear to be a wipe-out, it is anything but.


The Yated was told by RCA members whom it interviewed that the official Nominating Committee candidates who were victorious won by a 60-40 split – very far from a decisive victory. What’s more, half of the RCA’s membership did not even vote.


In brief, this means that while the RCA incumbents won, they retain no mandate to move forward with their policies. A 60-40 win with only half of the electorate voting is a dismal, technical victory.


The Yated predicts that the RCA leadership will either learn that there is great dissatisfaction among its ranks and will change gears, perhaps returning to the days when the RCA had a more public and commanding leadership role in American Orthodoxy, or that the current leadership should consider its days numbered.




Recently, ads were posted about a “Communal-Wide Modern Orthodox Siyum Hashas & Leil Iyun,” where speakers from various backgrounds within Orthodoxy would be mesayeim Shas and present lectures about the Talmud a few nights after the “main” siyum arranged by Agudas Yisroel of America. The “Communal-Wide Modern Orthodox Siyum Hashas & Leil Iyun” has among its sponsors Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), Yeshivat Maharat (the Open Orthodox seminary originally designed to ordain women, led by the female rabbi/”rabba” of Rabbi Avi Weiss’ shul), Uri L’Tzedek (the controversial left-wing social action group led by YCT rabbis), Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), International Rabbinic Fellowship (“IRF” – the YCT rabbinical organization), a Conservative rabbinical seminary, a traditional Conservative congregation named after a former JTS dean and led by a female “rosh kehilla,” some unaffiliated Jewish institutions, and some liberal Orthodox synagogues and schools, almost all of whose rabbis are members of the YCT Advisory Board, are YCT staff members, or maintain other affiliations with YCT.


This siyum also features male and female mesaymim of Shas, including one speaker from Yeshivat Hadar, a non-Orthodox rabbinical seminary led by JTS graduates. A speech in favor of “academic Talmud” (studying Gemara in non-traditional ways, such as the Talmud critics do) was on a recently-posted agenda of the event. (The agenda has changed many times thus far. The latest agenda is posted at


Sadly, the siyum’s agenda features an address by a member of the Beth Din of America. This presenter is the person who trained Rabbi Zev Farber for his Yadin Yadin ordination from YCT – the same Rabbi Farber who has espouses to’eivah marriages and other outrageous ideas.


Alas, there is another, undeclared yet glaring item in the program’s agenda: triple deception.


On the one hand, this “Modern Orthodox siyum” is not endorsed by any of the national Modern Orthodox organizations or leading Modern Orthodox mosdos in America – not by the OU, the RCA, National Council of Young Israel, YU, Mizrachi/Religious Zionists of America, Emunah, Amit Women, etc. So much for being a “Communal-Wide Modern Orthodox” program.


Furthermore, this siyum was originally slated to feature a few well-known prominent mainstream Orthodox rabbonim, who did not at all fit in with the balance of the program, its sponsors or participants; in fact, they would have stuck out like sore thumbs. To the best of our knowledge, when these few rabbonim (who have since withdrawn from any participation in the siyum) were asked to speak at the event, it was concealed from them that the event was basically an Open Orthodox and non-Orthodox-sponsored program, with no national institutional or organizational Orthodox sponsorship. On the contrary, they were told that it is a Modern Orthodox siyum, sponsored by some well-known Modern Orthodox shuls, and they thereupon graciously agreed to speak, under deception and concealment by those behind the event.


The Yated has also obtained documentation showing that this siyum is really being run by the YCT office. This fact was concealed from the public by way of the siyum organizers establishing an independent website and issuing a press release that gave the impression that the event is the broad-based effort of a variety of shuls and other institutions.




As the Yated previously reported, YCT has been doing its utmost to show that it is part of mainstream Orthodoxy. YCT is currently not accepted by Young Israel and the RCA, and in order to try to prove that it is indeed Orthodox and has legitimate Torah bona fides, YCT has undertaken an aggressive campaign to convince the general Orthodox world that it is indeed part of the machaneh. This siyum is a central part of YCT’s image campaign, and, as this article reveals, the basis for YCT’s image campaign is deception and distortion. YCT is part of mainstream Orthodoxy as much as the pork on the non-kosher meat shelf is part of the glatt kosher shelf.


We pray that the larger Orthodox world see the emes and not interpret the chazer fissel of YCT and its affiliates as simonei kashrus, despite YCT’s every effort to create that false image.


There is a Yiddish saying that if you want to find out about someone, see who his friends are. Who has YCT selected to include in its Siyum Hashas? A non-Orthodox congregation and seminary, allied fringe Open Orthodox groups, and speakers who have nothing to do with traditional Torah learning. If anyone is still wondering what YCT and Open Orthodoxy are about, look at those with whom they associate and whom they honor. This says it all.



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