Open Orthodox rabbi to address UK conference


One of the United States’s leading American modern Orthodox rabbis is coming to the UK for a two-day conference organised by a young religious activist.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a rabbinic academy founded in 1999, will be speaking at “Judaism – Learn Behind the Labels” at Hampstead Synagogue on Sunday and at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue on Monday.

YCT is one of the key institutions associated with a trend known as “Open Orthodoxy” which has been at the forefront, for example, of advancing the role of women.

Other speakers include Hampstead’s Rabbi Dr Michael Harris and Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance UK founder Dina Brawer.

The event has been instigated by Manchester-born, now London-based David Chait, the founder of a Facebook group called MOO, Moden/Open Orthodox.

Mr Chait, who is registered blind and a volunteer with the international development charity Tzedek, said he believed in a “divine tradition and principles which care about the details and the bigger picture, the community and the world, our traditional texts and the wisdom and insights that God’s wider world provides.”

But he felt that “”some of our rabbis want to wrap us in cotton wool rather than us hearing a broad spectrum of opinion and coming to informed positions. It might come from the best of motives but people suspending their own critical faculties doesn’t have a good history and it’s alien to Judaism.“

Topics include innovation in Jewish law, feminism and what we are meant to believe on the High Holy Days.
Mr Chait hoped the event would “provide a shop window for those who want to understand another perspective on what we’re about and help us maintain our Divine tradition and mission.”

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