Another Open Orthodox Shul Hires Maharat Female Clergy


congregation-bnai-david-judeaHere we go again.

Congregation B’nai David-Judea, an Orthodox shul in Los Angeles, is planning to hire a woman clergy member by September 2015. This is the latest development in the continued adulteration of Orthodoxy by Yeshivat Maharat, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and the general Open Orthodox concept created by Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale.

B’nai David recently hired Alissa Thomas-Newborn, 25, for a one-year “kehillah intern” position. Newborn is in her final year at Avi Weiss’ Yeshivat Maharat in New York and will complete her coursework from Los Angeles while interning at B’nai David.

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, B’nai David’s rabbi, said that Newborn’s internship will involve seven or eight Shabbosos over the coming year when she will address the full shul minyan and teach at various events. Upon graduation from Yeshivat Maharat, Newborn will earn the title of “maharat,” an acronym for manhiga hilchatit ruchanit toranit.

Kanefsky said that if Newborn’s internship goes well, the shul‘s board will put together a list of candidates and raise money for a permanent position for a female clergy member.

“Though we are still thinking through issues of title, we know that the title won’t be ‘rabbi,’ ” Kanefsky said, according to the Jewish Journal of Greater LA. “The fact that the title won’t be ‘rabbi’ has, I think, allayed the primary concern… It is very arguable that conferring the term ‘rabbi’ upon a woman violates no halachic lines… The best way to derail a good idea is by moving too far, too fast. If we want to continue advancing women’s participation in communal

Kanefsky has training from the leader of the Open Orthodox movement, having served under Avi Weiss at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale for six years before moving to L.A. in 1996.

Newborn was raised in Redondo Beach and her mother, Rabbi Didi Thomas, leads Temple Emet, a Reform synagogue that meets in Rancho Palos Verdes.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. How you can still call Avi Weiss a rabbi is beyond me. He’s a radical who doesn’t deserve the appellation and should be put into cherem. He is clearly machshil es harabbim. If only YU, the OU and the RCA would expose him for the charletain he is and defrock him, Yiddishkeit would be a lot better off.

  2. What is it with these Maharat “rabbis” that they all keep their maiden names along with their married names (Thomas-Newborn). We in Montreal also have a Maharat called Rachel Kohl-Finegold. This goes along with their philosophy of radical feminism. Chas v’shalom that a married woman should be subsumed solely under her husband’s last name. This Maharat, unlike a ger tzedek, a righteous convert, is no “katan sheh’nolad- Newborn!”

  3. Easy on your haunches! Torah has a fence! We are givint it a more visible raising! Torah is housed in honor! Your glass house is your non-orthodoxy!

  4. #5
    I’ve been saying the same for years.
    These shuls are probably members of one of those organizations and if the YU/RCA/OU don’t come out publicly denouncing these acts, then they will continue.
    I live in Texas where one of the large so called orthodox suls is contemplating going this route. and they are a OU member shul.
    It must be stopped NOW.

  5. #5 It’s in the hands of the RCA to cancel Weiss’ membership.

    #7 Wait until the third generation: there’ll be kids named Jacob Bernstein-Feingold-Birnbaum-Korn-Greenberg-Kalmanson-Blumenthal-Bluestone. Watch the shul management software crash.

    #9 How about we ditch the Orthodox label entirely: Either you’re a Shulchan Aruch Jew, or you’re playing a different game.

  6. To#9
    And our homes are perfect?
    what about people who carry in the Boro Park Evuv, it may be a cheiv kerus, having a lady speak in a shul like devorah hanuvieh is small chumps in my books compaired!

  7. B’nai David Congregation was founded on Pico Boulevard in 1948 by a small group of lay people who asked Rabbi Philip Schroit, a student of Rav Moshe Feinstein, to be their spiritual leader.The synagogue was a “traditional” synagogue, meaning that it followed Orthodox liturgy but maintained mixed seating. In 1964, the congregation moved to its current home, a former movie palace that by then was called the Stadium Theater In the mid-1970s, B’nai David merged with Congregation Judea, a decades-old synagogue located at the time on Fairfax Avenue, to become B’nai David-Judea Congregation.

    Today BDJ is led by Yossef Kanefsky who calls himself Rabbi. He is a controversial fellow who is a small minded advocate of “Tikun Olam”. There are at least 40 or 50 real shuls in the immediate area, every nusach is represented. BDJ (Conservadox), Temple Bet hAm (Reform) and Bais Chayim Chodoshim (Homo-Toayvah) are the 3 congregations in the Pico/Robertson/La Cienega that practice a deviant form of Judaism.

    The Pico/Robertson/La Cienega area is the fastest growing frum community in the Los Angeles area. 80% of all the glatt kosher restaurants in Los Angeles are in this area.

    Kanefsky needs “spectacular” publicity in order to try to increase membership in his shrinking/dying congregation. His “Tikun Olam” funfare center will eventually vanish along with the other misguided institutions into the garbage heap where they belong.

  8. “What is it with these Maharat “rabbis” that they all keep their maiden names along with their married names”

    Actually changing your name when you get married is a goyish custom. When Leah bat Laban married Yaakov ben Yitzchak, she did not become Leah bat Yitzchak. It would be better were they not to take their husbands names at all.

  9. “Kanefsky has training from the leader of the Open Orthodox movement”

    Rabbi Kanefsky actually has semicha from YU, as does Rabbi Weiss.

  10. #12 Texas Jew. I’m in the upper Midwest and the “shul’ by us was given OU status, without any investigation. But when our Rav called the OU, they sent two fresh faced kids to apologize, but its too late now.

  11. #14 Leave a Comment

    Presumably you subscribe to the cardinal precepts of Judaism?

    Na’ar vos du bist!

    Whatever one’s opinion may possibly be about carrying in Boro Park (am very against),

    would you really contemplate that it is continuous development of the process of tearing down the wall of Judaism?

  12. what does devorah haneviah have to do with anything it is ossutr in our day for a lady to address a male tzibbur in a beis hakennes and goes against the takanos that earlier generations were mekabel and it is a major lack of tzenius.

  13. #16 “ben/bat Yitzchak” is not a last name. On the other hand, when a women marries, she follows her husband regarding
    — eating/avoiding terumah;
    — ethnic practices (Ashkenazic/Sefardic/Mizrachi);
    — other minhagim and chumrot.

    Changing a civil surname has little halachic ramification. BUT it can strengthen or weaken family unity. Life is a lot smoother when parents and children share a single last name.

  14. Re 18: That’s an important point. I was thinking something along those lines, but not exactly. I’m happy that she’s found more Jewish substance in her life but find a lot about OO too disconcerting to go so far as praising.

  15. #18: Actually, she was better off being a Reform lay person (tinokes shenisboh) than becoming a leader in a deviant stream of Judaism (chotah, umachatah es harabim).

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