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Profile of Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Tablet has a nice profile of Rabbi Asher Lopatin who will be taking over from Rabbi Avi Weiss as the president of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah. Here are two interesting bits from the article.

At the same time, Lopatin is taking steps to make Chovevei into a hub for progressive Orthodox thought. The board has agreed to underwrite a new center for halakhah, which will organize and disseminate scholarship and opinions from Chovevei faculty on issues ranging from religious divorce, conversion, and organ donation to Weiss’ signature issues of denominational pluralism and women’s participation. “These are society-changing issues,” Lieberman, the chair of Chovevei’s board, told me. “Too often you see rabbis ruling on issues like whether you can cut a birthday cake with lettering on top on Shabbat. That’s not on the same level. So, the purpose is to allow YCT to address in a serious, scholarly fashion critically important issues to Orthodox Judaism and produce scholarly learning in a form rabbis around the world can use.”


And Lopatin has his sights set on an even broader goal than mending fences with the rest of Orthodoxy, one that would be revolutionary in its own way: unifying all of mainstream, progressive Jewish life. “I’ll sit down with the Satmar,” he told me. “But my dream is to have Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hadar, and Chovevei on one campus, to move in together. We’d each daven in our own ways, but it could transform the Upper West Side.” He leaned forward in his chair and moved his hands through the air, cutting out an imaginary section of Manhattan with a developer’s flair. “I’m not talking about closing down campuses, because I want more Torah, not less,” he went on. “I want to hear different opinions. Disagreement is OK—I don’t care if we come to a consensus, but put it all out there and continue the conversation.”

3 Responses to “Profile of Rabbi Asher Lopatin”

  1. 1

    sadly, that latter point is why Chovavei will never get mainstream acceptance from modern orthodox shuls outside of a small swath of extremely left wing NYC shuls. My shul will never consider a Chovavei musmakh and we’re pretty left wing. But there’s a dividing line, perhaps because we’re pretty left wing, and we want to stay firmly on the side of Orthodox.

    It’s a shame, since Chovavei had promise, but I think this is the death knell of it as an orthodox institution.

  2. 2
    abba's rantings:

    i’m all for bold, innovative and independent psak. i welcome chovevei initiative in that direction. i’m also fine with occasional inter-denominational dialogue. but one campus? no way.

  3. 3

    In what way is YCT anything but a feminist organization clad in the garb of modern orthodoxy. Other than women’s issues, what exactly is their focus? Not on Israel, not on learning, not on kashrus, not on academics – nothing. The single thing it is known for is the embarassing “rabbat” debacle. It is basically a single-interest special interest, and consequently can never be taken seriously by anyone.




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