Exclusive: Orthodox Union Adopts New Policy Barring Women Clergy
The Orthodox Union has adopted a new policy barring women from serving as clergy at its 400 member congregations across the United States.
At least four synagogues that are members of the Orthodox Union currently employ women in clergy roles.
A new rabbinic ruling by seven leading Modern Orthodox rabbis — adopted as official OU policy at a board meeting on February 1 — concludes that “a woman should not be appointed to serve in a clergy position.”
The ruling bars women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing clergy functions, such as regularly leading services, delivering sermons, ruling on matters of religious law, or officiating at weddings and funerals.
The OU publicly released its statement on the policy and the rabbinic ruling shortly after the Forward first posted this story.
“We have received a number of requests from member synagogues and their lay leadership and or rabbinic leadership for halachic guidance in this area,” said Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the OU. Fagin said that the OU had, in turn, requested the rabbinical ruling. He said that while the ruling bars women from clergy jobs, it encourages women to take other synagogue leadership roles.
News of the new policy drew immediate condemnation from rabbis and leaders on the Modern Orthodox left.