Avi Weiss Gets Green Light From Israel Rabbis To Vouch for Jewishness

Liberal Modern Orthodox Leader's Letter Was Rejected


By JTA

Published January 15, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel will accept letters confirming individuals’ Judaism from Avi Weiss, a New York liberal Orthodox rabbi.

The Rabbinate sent a letter Wednesday to Weiss’ attorney in Israel, Assaf Benmelech, affirming that it will accept all letters from Weiss confirming the Judaism of couples who want to wed in Israel.

In October, the Rabbinate rejected such a letter from Weiss, pending an investigation into Weiss’ adherence to traditional Jewish law.

The move sparked widespread outrage that Weiss, a longtime synagogue leader in New York who had vouched for the Jewishness of many Israeli immigrants in the past, was suddenly having his reliability called into question.

JTA has also learned that Naftali Bennett, who serves both as Israel’s religious services minister and diaspora affairs minister, has been meeting since November with officials from the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Rabbinate to resolve the issue. Bennett reportedly sees the issue as one of prime importace based on the potential negative impact it could have on Israel-diaspora relations.

Weiss founded liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and has pioneered a number of controversial innovations in the Orthodox world, most recently with his decision to ordain women as clergy through a new religious seminary called Yeshivat Maharat.

“In the decision of the Chief Rabbinate, one can see recognition of the life work of Rabbi Avi Weiss in Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat, and of the Halachic legitimacy of open Orthodox rabbis, who are contending with the challenges of our generation within the limits of the Halacha,” Benmelech told JTA.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.