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Orthodox Judaism: Rabbinical Alliance of America

The Rabbinical Alliance of American (Iggud ha-Rabbonim) is an organization that "seeks to promulgate the cause of Torah-true Judaism through an organized rabbinate that is consistently Orthodox."

Founded in 1942 as an association of Orthodox rabbis, in its early years, most of its members were ordained by Yeshivah Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn. By 1965 the group had a membership of 250, of whom 100 occupied pulpits. In 2005 membership reached 834, of whom slightly more than half occupied pulpits. It has always been common for members of the RAA who occupy significant pulpits to also hold membership in the preexisting Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). As early as 1949, there was discussion about an amalgamation with the RCA, which heightened during the RCA presidency of Theodore L. Adams and his counterpart at the RAA, Ralph Pelcovitz, yet nothing ever materialized from these discussions.

At a joint press conference in New York City on December 3, 1954, the RCA and RAA teamed up to protest the Conservative movement's innovations regarding the ketubbah (marriage contract). This was noteworthy since the other major Orthodox rabbinic body, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudat ha-Rabbonim), refused to join the RCA in this endeavor. A defining feature of the RAA has been its refusal to recognize non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, although some of their rabbis are members of Jewish ecumenical bodies such as the New York Board of Rabbis.

From its founding, the RAA has maintained its own bet din in Brooklyn, New York, headed (2005) by Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, who was also the chairman of the RAA's halakhic committee. The RAA publishes an occasional periodical by the name of Zikhron Meyer. Since 1972 Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht has served as president of the RAA, although prior to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Hecht called for the death of any Jewish leader who would concede portions of the land of Israel for peace. Later he expressed remorse for his comments.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Louis Bernstein, Challenge and Mission: The Emergence of the English Speaking Rabbinate (1982).