Women can be Leaders but not Leaders? Is this really a start?

JTA

Orthodox Union’s new project says women don’t need to be rabbis to be leaders

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Orthodox Union is founding its own division to advance women as congregational leaders, as well as to promote Jewish study and communal participation for women in Modern Orthodoxy.

The announcement comes nearly nine months after the group, an umbrella association of centrist Orthodox synagogues, issued a ruling banning those synagogues from hiring women for clergy roles.

The Department of Women’s Initiatives, which will launch Nov. 1, aims to increase women’s participation in synagogues in a way the O.U. feels is consonant with Orthodox tradition.

“I think it’s important for women to hear what they can do,” said Adina Shmidman, the department’s incoming director. “This department is really focused on the positive, and the will to continue and find opportunities for women. I think positivity and enthusiasm and uniting women through Torah study is primary, whether it be personal leadership opportunities or communal leadership roles.”

The department will have a budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and provide guidance, networking and funding for women who want to be professional leaders in Orthodox synagogues. It will also promote women as congregational scholars-in-residence and encourage women to take on lay leadership roles at synagogue. In addition, it will encourage the physical expansion of women’s spaces in synagogues.

Also, the department will  offer high-level women’s classes in Torah study, as well as programs for youth. And it will form a think tank to analyze programs and resources for Orthodox women.

Conceived three years ago, the department is in part a response to the ascendance of women to public leadership roles during the past few decades, O.U. leaders said. They also noted that there is a much wider range of educational opportunities available to Orthodox women than in the past. A synagogue with an entirely male senior staff, said O.U. President Moishe Bane, risks unintentionally sidelining half its membership.

“It’s difficult to expect that when men are the primary communal leadership that they’ll understand and appreciate the roles women play and should be playing, and the needs they have,” Bane said. “I think there’s a recognition in the Orthodox Union that the world is changing rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing rapidly.”

In February, the group issued a ruling barring women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing “common” clergy functions such as ruling on legal matters, officiating at life-cycle events, delivering sermons from the pulpit during services, leading services and serving as a synagogue’s primary authority.

The same ruling urged an expanded role for women as teachers and pastoral counselors, and as lay leaders and professionals. The Rabbinical Council of America, another Orthodox umbrella group, has also issued a ruling against women clergy.

Four Orthodox synagogues that are O.U. members currently employ women in such positions — all of them graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox women’s seminary in Riverdale. Women who graduate from the seminary receive the title “maharat,” a Hebrew acronym for “Jewish legal, spiritual and Torah leader” that avoids conferring the title “rabbi.” But earlier this year, the O.U. sent representatives to these synagogues asking the female clergy to change their titles.

According to a recent survey, a majority of U.S. Modern Orthodox Jews either fully or somewhat agree that women should have “expanded roles in the clergy.” More than one-third either fully or somewhat support a woman holding a position with “rabbinic authority.” A solid majority says a woman can serve as president of a synagogue — a lay position. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance website currently lists over 80 women who have served as presidents of Orthodox congregations.

Bane and Allen Fagin, the O.U.’s executive vice president, said the department’s establishment is not a reaction to fallout from the ban. Rather, Bane said the ban itself was a result of the department’s planning process, which included an examination of Jewish legal limits on women’s leadership.

The department will advance women as teachers, professional staff and pastoral counselors. But Bane said a woman should not be “the face of the synagogue.”

“One of the most important conversations we believe needs to take place in our community is to define appropriate job descriptions and titles for women who will serve as synagogue professionals, in roles that are consistent with Jewish law, consistent with tradition, but are extremely important within the shul,” he said.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said she hoped the O.U. would make good on its promises to advance women and invest more in women’s programs. Along with positive actions, she recommended that the O.U. stop actively opposing Orthodox women clergy and the congregations that employ them. Weiss-Greenberg spoke to JTA without knowledge of the department’s establishment, which is being first reported here.

“They list all these things that women can and should be doing,” she said, referring to the O.U.’s Jewish legal ruling. “Actions speak louder than words. Let’s hear from women — women who are not token women, who are highly educated, passionate and invested.”

Shmidman is the kind of synagogue leader the O.U. hopes to develop more of. She has a doctorate in educational psychology and serves her community as the rebbetzin, or rabbi’s wife, of her synagogue in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. In 2015, she founded the Rebbetzin to Rebbetzin Mentoring Program under the auspices of Yeshiva University, which pairs younger rabbis’ wives with more experienced rebbetzins who guide them on how to serve and navigate their communities.

While Shmidman hopes to continue training rebbetzins, she wants to expand leadership and learning opportunities for other women as well. The department will push synagogues to offer classes for women on par with what men receive — such as a “daf yomi,” which that covers a page of Talmud daily — as well as weekly or monthly women’s learning groups and mother-daughter study programs.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

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OU – Barring Women Clergy

 

religous fundamentalis
http://forward.com/news/362043/orthodox-union-adopts-policy-barring-women-clergy/

 

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.

 “The OU should stick to tuna fish,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., an OU congregation that employs a female clergy member, Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman. (In addition to its role as a synagogue umbrella group, the OU runs the largest kosher certification agency in the world.)

It’s not clear what the OU will do about member synagogues that currently employ female clergy. The OU statement says that the OU’s Synagogue Standards Commission will “enter into a dialogue with synagogues to encourage and facilitate implementation” of the rabbinic ruling.

Fagin said that it was the OU’s “really strong hope” that congregations that currently have female clergy would not split from the OU. “Part of our responsibility here, together with our shuls, is to try to find common ground in those small number of instances where there may be the need for further thought,” he said.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

The OU Hechsher – A SELLOUT TO THE JEWS??

Orthodox Union Kosher Certification

  • The World's Most Recognized<br>& Trusted Kosher Certification

    The World’s Most Recognized
    & Trusted Kosher Certification
    For over 80 years, the Orthodox Union has set the bar for the highest standards of kosher certification.

LM thanks our contributor for this post and for the accompanying research. We think that any observant Jews relying on the Orthodox Union certification should be grateful.
June 24, 2016

Boar’s Head Kosher?  Chazer, the OU and the “highest standards” reduced for a price

While many of us are not strictly observant Jews, we do believe people for whom strict Kashrut is important should be able to rely on certifying entities. It may be time to rethink accepting the OU certification as legitimate. It is our view that the OU has sold out, is committing both a fraud and that their advertising is false. They do not, in our view, meet “the highest standards of kosher certification”

General Explanation of Kashrut

With Kashrut the Devil is in the details and different groups of observant Jews accept different standards. The following is a very basic outline of Kashrut according to a site entitled Judaism 101.

Judaism 101: Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws

General Rules

Although the details of kashrut are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
  4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs (which cannot be eaten)
  6. Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
  7. Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
  8. Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.
  9. There are a few other rules that are not universal.

BOAR’S HEAD

[Note to reader: Our criticism is of the Orthodox Union. The Boar’s Head company may be the victim of a fraud. We in no way want to suggest people should not be purchasing Boar’s Head products. We do suggest that if you are purchasing those products because you believe them to be kosher, you may want to think again.]

Boar’s Head   is a company that has been around for years. It is, as far as we know, a reputable company and its very name is known for its “cold cuts” which include pork products.

Most observant Jews will not purchase Boar’s Head products.

When you look on its website and do a search for  “Kosher” you come up with the “Pub Style Horseradish Sauce.” With a wee bit of humor the caption reads: “The rich, creamy flavor of our Pub Style Horseradish Sauce will enhance all of your sandwiches. The perfect kosher complement to Deluxe Roast Beef and Double Gloucester Cheese.” Again with humor we wonder if the observant person buying the Kosher Horseradish Sauce would eat the Deluxe Roast Beef together with the Double Cloucester Cheese. Likely not.

A call to the Boar’s Head company left us baffled when the woman we spoke with indicated that as far as she knows there are no Kosher products. We can’t really have expected her to be well-versed in their Kosher products and do not fault her for her very polite response. But she did leave us wondering.

What the following research has told us is that there is an extensive list of Boar’s Head products that carry the OU symbol.

bh.141This all started with sauerkraut.

A few days ago, one of our commenters sent us information that the OU certification may be a fraud. The commenter came to that conclusion in large part because the OU certification really should not go hand-in-hand with the central focus of the product logo being the face  of a pig. 

The commenter did not leave it there.

The commenter questioned the OU. In response to an inquiry to the OU regarding why and how Boar’s Head products obtain an OU certification the following email was received:

OU.1234d

Reading the letter, there are a number of conclusions one might raise, meeting the strictest standards of Kashrut for observant Jews, not being one of them.

A Telephone Call to the Orthodox Union

Our diligent (and strictly observant) commenter then told us the following:

I asked to speak with Rabbi Menachem Genack. He wouldn’t come to the phone, but he told Rabbi Luban to call me back. Rabbi Luban first claimed that even though some products are only eaten by non-Jews, the money the OU gets off these products are given to Orthodox Jewish causes like Yachad and other organizations, so he felt the OU was doing something good by getting money from non-Jews to help support Jewish causes. I told Luban that we are concerned of a pushback by gentiles for paying these fees. He didn’t seem concerned. Then he told me that he himself is not happy about the OU policy of certifying fake ham and shrimp.
 
I then told Luban that we believe having an OU symbol next to a picture of a pig’s head is a chilul hashem. He said, “I hear you.” I demanded he provide Rabbi Genack’s email address so I could protest to Genack directly. The email address is: Genackm@ou.org.

KASHRUT FOR PROFIT AND NOT FOR INTEGRITY

Companies, like Boar’s Head, are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a stamp of approval which supposedly meets the standards of an observant Jewish market willing to pay more for guarantees of Kashrut. Observant Jews are paying more for products so that they can feel settled in knowing that they are meeting appropriate dietary laws. Non-observant Jews and non-Jews are unwittingly paying more for products with the OU label because they are just happen to have a Kosher label.

Based upon increased cost alone, we believe wholeheartedly that people Jewish and non-Jewish alike should be scrutinizing the standards by which the Orthodox Union products are certified Kosher (OU) and the value placed upon that certification. The letter above and the conversation that followed could, in our view, amount to extortion.

Companies who want a legitimate Kashrut label may want to go elsewhere. In our view, the OU is bilking them to meet the needs of a market it may not actually be meeting.

If providing Kosher certification is a money making endeavor, as we had suggested in a very early post of ours, than observant Jews may want to consider speaking to their Rabbis and getting advice on which products to buy. If it is all about the money, a false advertising marketing scheme of epic proportions is being perpetrated upon observant Jews who rely upon that marketing.

The Orthodox Union and its OU symbol in our view represent a hypocrisy of epic proportions. Kashrut in its strictest sense is falling to the wayside.

We have followed this with a fairly comprehensive list of Boar’s Head products certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union which may not exactly be meeting appropriate Kosher standards.

We do not place blame upon Boar’s Head but upon what we now view to be a money making fraud perpetrated upon them by the Orthodox Union.

BRAND PRODUCT TYPE SYMBOL STATUS
Boar’s Head Sugar & Spice Glaze Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Mayonnaise Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Real Mayonnaise Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Horseradish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Hot and Spicy Gourmet Barbecue Sauce Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Boarshead Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Real Mayonnaise Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Cage Free Egg Mayonniase (pails) Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Savory Remoulade Cajun Style Mayonnaise Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Horseradish And Beets Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Real Mayonnaise made with Cage Free Eggs Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Mustard Honey Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Real Mayonnaise Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Sauerkraut Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Mustard Deli With White Wine Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Horseradish Sauce Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Mustard With Horseradish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand H.J. Sweet Relish 561 Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Hot Pepper Relish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand New Kosher Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sour Relish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand N.Y. Sour Dills-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand N.Y. Sour Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand New Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Kosher Dill Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sauerkraut Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Kosher Spears Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand 1/8 Inch Sour Relish 564-A Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Deli Pickle Chips Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Fresh Deli Spears Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Half Sour Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Hot Peppers Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand New Kraut Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sweet Gherkins Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sweet Relish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Vinegar Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Deli Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Genuine Dills-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Processed Dills-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Half Sour Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Deli Pickles Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Hot Dog Relish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sweet Pepper Relish Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Sweet Wonder Hot Peppers Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Tartar Sauce Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Barrel Cured Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Cold Pack Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Half Done Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.
Boar’s Head Brand Half Sour Pickles-All Presentations Pareve OU Symbol required. Not Kosher for Passover.