NEW YORK (JTA) – May women enter the Orthodox rabbinate? May conversions to Judaism be left to the discretion of a local or communal rabbi, or must they be sanctioned by a centralized rabbinic authority? How do concerns for peoplehood weigh on the issue of who is a Jew? Do Jewish tradition and liberal democracy intersect in positive ways or are they mutually irreconcilable?
Disagreements over these and other questions have divided the world of contemporary Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy itself is divided among its haredi, centrist and modern wings. As Orthodoxy continues to grow in importance in terms of demographics and politics, it increasingly will fall under the scrutiny of friend and foe alike.
Several weeks back a group of Orthodox thought leaders, rabbis, communal professionals and lay leaders announced the formation of PORAT – People for Orthodox Renaissance and Torah. The new organization is a vehicle to reclaim the mantle of modern Orthodoxy and provide a distinctive counter voice to those advocating greater isolationism and rejection of modern currents. [Read more…]