Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sperber Leaves Orthodoxy?

The JTA reports today that Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber is the chancellor of a new rabbinical school - the aptly named Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School - which is to be the "middle ground between Conservative Judaism and what they describe as an increasingly rigid Orthodox movement."

So check out the leadership: all but Sperber are Conservative rabbis; faculty? All conservative rabbis, including Joel Roth and Wayne Allen, two of the brightest and most halakhically knowledgeable of Conservative rabbis.

Going through the entire faculty list yields only one non-JTS rabbi, Aaron Levy who's a musmakh of Chovevei... which seriously doesn't help matters for both schools.

So finally finally finally Sperber outs himself for what he really is: a conservative rabbi. Yeah, Dan, we Orthodox are so rigid and have 'moved to the right' - either that or you and your cronies have been pushing the goalposts so far to the left that all I had to do was stand still.

But, you may say, the JTA article does state:
Sperber, who is on the advisory board of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school in New York founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss, says the major hurdle will be attracting more Orthodox faculty. If the new school becomes identified as a Conservative institution -- a possibility, given that most of its leadership is Conservative -- Sperber said he will withdraw.
How seriously should I take that? Well, a hallmark of conservative halakha has been a remarkable short-sightedness; they advocate rapid, jerky change and then wonder why nobody follows D'orytas anymore. In the same vein, Sperber has jumped ship without bothering for the consequences (just as he did by advocating for the so-called partnership minyans).

Bottom line is that he has been a conservative rabbi for a while now. And the crazy part is that people will interpret that statement, and he will react to that statement, by thinking it's a slur. It's only a slur if you are a bigot. I'm not: it's perfectly OK to be a conservative Jew... just don't hide what you're doing behind the veneer of Orthodoxy, that's assur.

Yet for Sperber to believe that the yeshiva is good enough to join as chancellor, but only if it's not 'conservative' means that he's a bigot. Look, Dan, do you agree with your faculty? So what if they're "conservative" in name - you agree with them in what they do. So join them in name. Do everyone a favor and stop being a meisit.

P.S. I love how all the faculty with "s'mikha" are called "Rav." I believe this is in reaction to Rav Moshe Feinstein's practice of phonetically spelling out the English word "rabbi" in Hebrew when referring to non-Orthodox rabbis. Either that or it's the standard 'through the looking glass' way that conservative rabbis take standard halakhic terms and infuse them with their new denomination specific meanings.

Pic is of Sperber from his new yeshiva's website

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