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Rabbinical Council of America

RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA (RCA; Histadrut Harabanim). Founded in 1923 (as the Rabbinical Council of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations), in 1935 the RCA merged with the Rabbinical Association of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Yeshiva University) and took its present name. The goal of the RCA is "to advance the cause and the voice of Torah and the rabbinic tradition" by "promoting the welfare, interests, and professionalism of Orthodox rabbis all around the world"; it is the rabbinic counterpart of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. The RCA has offices in New York and Jerusalem and sponsors various yeshivot and educational institutions in Israel. In 2005 the RCA claimed an international membership of over 1,000 members, of whom 600 occupied pulpits and one hundred were in chaplaincy, the remainder were in educational or communal positions. Most of its members are graduates of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

Since 1960, the RCA has sponsored the independent Beth Din of America, which, in addition to dealing with questions of personal status, also addresses issues arising from commercial disputes and keeps records of prenuptial agreements that are promulgated through the RCA. In 2005 The Beth Din of America was headed by Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz and its director was Rabbi Jonathan Reiss. Until his death in 1993, Rabbi Joseph B. *Soloveitchik was the "guiding spirit and mentor" of the RCA and chaired its halakhah commission, which Rabbi Asher Bush was coordinating in 2005. While eschewing inter-religious activities that include discussions of theology, the RCA has sent representatives to the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), which is under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress. The RCA publishes two journals, a quarterly, Tradition (1958– ) and a halakhic journal in Hebrew, Hadarom. (1957– ). From 2002 the executive vice president of the RCA was Rabbi Basil Herring.


Leibman, in: AJYB, 66 (1965), 21–97; Davis, in: L. Finkelstein, The Jews: Their History, Culture, and Religion, 1 (19603), 559f.; L. Bernstein, Challenge and Mission: The Emergence of the English Speaking Rabbinate (1982).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.