Oct 30, 2015
The membership of the Rabbinical Council of America, in a resolution proposed by certain members, reaffirmed the traditional Orthodox position against the ordination of women, regardless of title, and the hiring of women in rabbinic positions in Orthodox institutions. At the same time, it reaffirmed its previous position supporting the growth of professional opportunities for women to teach and serve the Jewish community in many capacities.
In a 2010 resolution, the RCA recognized the value of advanced Torah learning for women and "encourage[d] a diversity of halachically and communally appropriate professional opportunities for learned, committed women, in the service of our collective mission to preserve and transmit our heritage."
Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA, noted that the vote on the resolution was extremely close due in large part to the view of many members - including himself, the vast majority of current officers and rashei yeshiva with whom he consulted - that the 2010 unanimous resolution and a well-crafted statement of reinforcement in 2013 was sufficient to express the RCA's position on this matter. Rabbi Baum stated, "I personally join with all of the officers, our poskim and our members whose overwhelming sentiment is in opposition to the ordination of women, no matter what title is used, and am deeply concerned with other innovations that challenge our community. However, I believe that this is a time to be proactive in educating the community about important issues in a more positive manner. This vote - even as it reflects some different viewpoints - is proof that we are a strong organization, unified in purpose, and willing to tackle difficult issues."
Rabbi Baum wrote in a letter to membership that "as the role of women in society advances, we must consider and encourage appropriate professional opportunities open to learned women in our community, as we find positive ways to express the beauty of Torah and the importance of its values that have been extant for millennia. At the same time, as we move forward, we must ensure that women's voices are heard and respected in these conversations. Furthermore, we are committed to working closely with rashei yeshiva, and our partners at Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union and other key Modern Orthodox institutions to offer even more clarity on the issues confronting our community."