The Forward website reports today (May 3, 2010) that the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) -- centrist Orthodoxy's largest rabbinic association -- has officially shut the door on the idea of having women in the Orthodox rabbinate.
The RCA resolution -- passed at the group's annual convention April 26, 2010 -- declared firmly, "We cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of title."
Advocates for female Orthodox clergy, however, pointed out that the resolution did not invoke Halacha -- that is, Judaic law -- but instead referred to a more nebulous principle of "sacred continuity" as the basis for the prohibition.
The resolution was sparked by a process that began in January 2010, when Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale announced that Sarah Hurwitz -- a spiritual leader at the Hebrew Institute -- could use the title "rabba." This decision caused so much uproar and anger in the Orthodox community -- some had even threatened to remove Rabbi Weiss from his position -- that Rabbi Weiss changed his mind, and agreed not to bestow the title of "rabba" upon any woman.
Hurwitz told Forward website that she did not attend the RCA Convention, because she was not invited.