Statement from YU and RIETS

Yeshiva University and its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) today issued the following statement in response to media reports that one of our rabbinical students may be denied ordination due to his participation in a “partnership minyan”: 

To be clear, the issue at hand has never been just about partnership minyanim, nor was there consideration of condemning or punishing a student for a single misdeed. RIETS does not recognize assertions that such services are halakhically valid. The student’s participation in such a minyan, however, was the catalyst for discussion with him about the process of interpreting Jewish law and acceptable approaches to making decisions about complex halakhic issues. Those discussions raised concerns that the student’s views on the halakhic process differed sharply from those of the entire rabbinic faculty of RIETS, prompting the yeshiva to question the granting of our seal of approbation called semikhah. At the student’s request, a written summary of the principles of our institution as discussed in our meetings was provided to enable him to make his decision in good faith.

We are proud of the young Torah scholars who study in our Batei Midrash, and all of our graduates, including this young man, are trained and equipped to respond to halakhic questions. At the same time, we maintain that some questions require consultation with more experienced authorities, whether within or beyond the walls of our yeshiva. We expect our students to guide others in matters of Jewish law in accordance with the principles of the yeshiva and its long-standing traditions.

We are pleased to share that an agreement has been reached with the student reflective of his commitment to the principles of our institution stated above. The student will, with over 225 others, receive his ordination as part of a record class of graduates at our quadrennial Chag Hasemikhah celebration next month.