Random Thoughts On Steven Friedman’s Ouster From Sunday Morning OU Panel

Background on the case.

* A source says:

The right story is that the OU canceled Steven Friedman. Why? Think. Why did the OU cancel it’s own speaker?

Baruch Cohen is NOT that powerful and he’s not the story.

The OU did not know about Friedman’s challenging of the Beit Din’s psak (ruling). Once they knew, once they got calls of protest from various rabbis and leaders in the Orthodox community in Los Angeles, they pulled him from the panel.

The OU is a TORAH organization that must uphold Torah and Bais Dins. It cannot condone Friedman’s actions of challenging in a secular court a Beit Din (RCC) ruling. It did the right thing pulling him from the program.

The focus of the program isn’t even about Steven Friedman either. It’s about Torah standards and upholding them.

* It is unusual for Orthodox Jews to appeal a Beit Din’s decision to a secular court as has Rabbi Ohana’s legal representatives in his case with Rita Paukert, but the RCC , alone among the major Beit Dins (Jewish law courts) provides for no avenue of appeal and also claims it does not need to explain any of its decisions and in this case, Rita Pauker’s legal team twice appealed to secular court to enforce the RCC ‘s decision (Petitions to Confirm Arbitration Award).

* The explanation I have that best fits this OU decision is that Rabbi Steven Weil has always caved to his right-wing and to Rabbi Union.

* I can recall no precedent for a Jewish organization removing an attorney from a panel for representing his client within the bounds of the law. The RCC has no seiruv (finding of contempt) against R. Samuel Ohana, let alone his legal counsel Steven Friedman and Scott Sobel.

* Rabbi Sholom Tendler, who was the dayan (judge) for the RCC in the Paukert-Ohana case, rarely functions as a dayan.

* A rav tells me Saturday night: “[OU rabbi] has admitted that it is terrorism by the RCC and that he has to give into it.”

* According to a sofer who examined the four Torah scrolls in question, none of them are kosher and the four of them have a maximum total worth of $20,000. Two of the scrolls are reparable.

* Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, West Coast director of the Orthodox Union, is a master fundraiser. Rabbi Steven Weil is a master fundraiser. Neither would be in their position except for their ability to shmooze rich people.

* I don’t believe that the RCC accepts the kashrut of the Orthodox Union on all foods (particularly meats).

* A friend calls. “You can’t be an attorney who publicly shmutzes (tarnishes) a Beit Din, appeal its ruling to a secular court, and then speak for an organization that claims to uphold Torah values.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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