…Modern Orthodox education does stress some core beliefs: on the one side, the divinity of Torah law and the centrality of Jewish peoplehood and Zionism; on the other side, the unquestionable value of secular education and accomplishment. But it rarely teaches either its young or its elders about the process by which key Jewish practices and beliefs actually developed in the past, how central this developmental process was to the survival of Judaism over the centuries, and wherein its relevance lies for the present and future. Nor are students taught to think critically about the increasingly anti-traditional culture in which they are immersed as young 21st-century Americans, and what that fact implies for their lives as Jews.
This basic unpreparedness invites mischief, most recently in the form of attempts to graft contemporary impulses onto a 2,000-year-old civilization with which they are partly or largely incompatible. In short order the personal becomes political, the desire for dynamism transforms itself into a demand for rapid change, and reiterations of traditional belief are dismissed as retrograde and offensive rather than as contributions to a discussion that may take years to close, if ever. Add to this a lethargic leadership that has fallen into a habit of reacting only when problems become too big to ignore, and a point is reached where the sole remaining options are to rebuff, to avoid, or to stall: precisely the pattern playing out in microcosm on the question of women’s ordination.
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/]