For some time, many of us have been eager to fashion a rabbinic voice that will clearly, unequivocally and unhesitatingly articulate the hashkafa of Orthodox Judaism. We have watched as others have endeavored to speak for Orthodoxy — even publishing week after week in the Jewish and general media — in ways that are sometimes incompatible and other times not fully representative of what many of us understand to be authentic Torah positions.
Furthermore, as the general society is re-thinking and even revising traditional values while it contemplates new moral and ethical issues, we have realized that the silence or reticence of the Torah community can be seen as a sign of weakness by both Jews and non-Jews. It has also failed in the essential rabbinic mission of teaching the truths of Torah to all listeners.
After many months of deliberation, we have concluded that such silence has damaged the standing of Torah and that further reticence is untenable. We have devised a modest proposal that we hope will lend to contemporary Torah its authentic voice. We are therefore asking anshei shlomeinu, the hundreds and even thousands of Orthodox rabbis across the Jewish world, to join in this effort to be an enduring Torah voice, to the best of our ability, to the outside world.
We have, with G-d’s help, launched a new rabbinic organization called TORA (Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America). Initially, it will focus on the critical task of offering an authentic Torah viewpoint to the media & will help counteract those voices that, as we see it, occasionally distort or dilute the Torah’s message. We intend to be reactive when necessary but will prioritize being proactive — offering resolutions to problems that loom on the horizon, analysis to the pressing moral issues that beset the Jew in the modern world, & Torah direction on the halachic controversies of our era.
The Jewish world especially is crying out for clarity — the clarity that can only be provided by an authentic Torah voice grounded in the Mesorah and respect for Rabbinic tradition. Our objective will be to provide that clarity.
We must be able to speak for more than ourselves and a handful of like-minded individuals, especially those who have felt that the Torah message to date has been too watered down, adulterated by political correctness and the fear of an unreceptive public response. We know that our views on Torah and Mesorah are shared by hundreds of thousands of Jews. They need to hear it from their rabbinic leadership. And we need to show that substantial numbers of Orthodox Rabbis are members of our group.
We do not anticipate the usual trappings of organizations. There is no membership fee and few demands will be made on your time. To launch this organization, all the signatories below were contacted by others and asked to lend their names to this effort. We will gladly step down once the organization is firmly established and customary organizational protocols can be instituted. For now, it is more important to make the organization and its work a reality.
If you support this effort, please join. At first, there will be a group of writers who will cooperate on press releases, policy statements, etc. The signatories below will review everything before it goes out. We have confidence in each other’s judgment and hashkafos, and ask for yours as well.
You will be placing your confidence in us as a group — in our hashkafos & in our judgment. In time, we hope to expand our efforts to include dynamic and effective articulations of traditional Torah positions to those within our own Torah communities.
We understand that TORA will include people with different backgrounds and views on some topics. We will try to avoid politics, both domestic and Israeli, as long as there is no urgent Torah dimension to the issue at hand. We will be vocal and unambiguous in our support of Torah min-ha-Shamayim, of halachah in substance and methodology as Klal Yisrael has known it for centuries, of mesorah, of the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith, of the wisdom of gedolei Yisrael, and of our yearnings for the safety and security of the State of Israel.
We are not competing with any other rabbinic organization & we each intend to maintain all our current rabbinic affiliations. We are extending this invitation to a large list of rabbis, including members of the RCA, Young Israel Rabbis and Agudah. No one needs to resign from any organization in order to join TORA. We will speak where others are silent, and add our voice to theirs when appropriate.
We ask for your endorsement by returning a favorable reply to this solicitation to join with us by filling the form below. Your favorable reply will enable us to count you as a proud new member of TORA. May הקב”ה help us avoid all machlokes and keep our activities entirely לשם שמים and may He bless our efforts להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה.
Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein, Los Angeles CA
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, Cherry Hill NJ
Rabbi Ilan Feldman, Atlanta GA
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Teaneck NJ
Rabbi Michael Taubes, Teaneck NJ
Rabbi Benzion Twerski, Milwaukee WI
Rabbi Jeff Wohlgelernter, La Jolla CA