The charge that the establishment lacks even a healthy amount of dynamism is undeniably correct. Indeed, the RCA’s long failure to have clearly articulated the reasons behind a rabbinical norm that has held for over 2,000 years is but one sign of a broader disinclination to anticipate the challenges facing the movement and of an infrastructure ill-equipped to approach them properly as they arise. Without compromising its own position on the matter, the RCA could have sought to guide its constituency toward examining, from a traditional perspective, the religious, cultural, and social implications of women’s roles within Orthodoxy. Instead, after watching the women’s-ordination controversy brew within the organization’s walls for over six years, it seems that the majority of RCA members simply felt forced to pick a side. As a quick survey of the organization’s press releases in recent years shows, this passive posture, reflecting an essentially reactive stance toward critical issues and events, is habitual.
Lack of initiative is compounded by the frustrations inherent in an age of faltering clerical authority, a circumstance hardly unique to American Orthodoxy, or to Judaism. In Modern Orthodoxy’s case, this ebbing of clerical influence has been exacerbated by years of internecine skirmishes and rabbinical scandals. Moreover, although Modern Orthodoxy has produced many brilliant and dedicated leaders and laymen, it has yet to cultivate younger figures possessing the authority and broad appeal of its founding fathers.
Aylana Meisel, “Why Did American Orthodox Rabbis Just Ban Something They’ve Already Banned Before?”, Mosaic (10 November 2015) [http://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/2015/11/why-did-american-orthodox-rabbis-just-ban-something-theyve-already-banned-before/]