I am writing in response to your recent editorial, “RCBC Draws Boundary Line on Women Rabbis” (February 6, 2019). In her presentation of the issues surrounding the by-law recently passed by the RCBC with respect to Cong. Netivot Shalom, Elizabeth Kratz, despite what I am sure were good intentions, misses the point. This is not an issue of whether women’s ordination should be accepted in Orthodox synagogues. Rather, this is an issue of (i) whether rabbis have autonomy over what happens within the confines of their own synagogues, and (ii) whether the RCBC should be in the business of deciding who is “in” and who is “out” of Orthodoxy when it comes to issues that are not as clear as Basar B’Chalav.
Over the past week, I have had a multitude of conversations with individuals on both sides of the debate about women’s ordination. The conclusion is uniform: No matter where they stand on women’s ordination, Bergen County community members want their own rabbis to dictate what happens in their shuls. And perhaps even more importantly, they want Bergen County to remain a place of mutual respect among religious institutions.
In her editorial, Ms. Kratz references norms within Orthodoxy. The only Orthodox norms that were violated here were violated by the RCBC: namely, rabbinic independence and basic decency.Tamar Warburg