Press Release   from EDAH                                                      Monday, July 3, 2006

Contact: Rabbi Saul J. Berman            212-244-7501  


Edah to Close – Programs to Continue

Rabbi Berman to Move to Chovevei Torah


Rabbi Saul J. Berman, founding Director of Edah, announced the intention of the Executive Committee to seek the approval of the Board of Edah to wind down the organization by the end of this summer, 2006.  The board is expected to meet mid-July to pass on the Executive Committee’s recommendation.

“When we founded Edah in late 1997,” said Rabbi Berman, “we saw it as a project with a ten year mission – to reverse the separatist trend within Modern Orthodoxy which was isolating the Modern Orthodox community from the rest of the Jewish people. After nine years, we feel we have arrived at a good place—more to be done, but much of the groundwork put into place. It is a good time for Edah to pass the challenge on to others to take up the work.

David Eisner, a vice president of Edah, said, There comes a time in the life of a young organization, especially one like Edah that has achieved so many of its objectives, when it must decide whether it is the best use of scarce communal resources to expand and perpetuate itself, or to seek other ways to complete its missions.” 

Morton Landowne, president of Edah, said, “Edah has been an energetic catalyst for change in the Modern Orthodox community for the past nine years. Our achievements have exceeded our expectations. We have decided that it would be the most effective use of communal resources to integrate our distinctive programs into other, like-minded, institutions. We are pleased that Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, for example, will absorb the three major projects of Edah, the web-site, the Journal and the audio-visual library. We are also pleased that Edah at the JCC will continue in this coming year. We are grateful to our staff, donors, supporters and all the people who have shared in Edah’s vision for their commitment and unfailing conviction and dedication.”

Rabbi Berman has been offered by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), and will accept, the position as Director of a new Rabbinic Enhancement Initiative, funded by the Legacy Heritage Foundation. He will focus on designing and implementing programs to enhance the intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth of rabbis in the field.  “YCT has emerged as a powerful resource for the education and placement of rabbis with an Open Modern Orthodox perspective,” said Rabbi Berman, “It will contribute to making Torah more accessible to serious Jews in America.” Rabbi Berman will also continue his 35 year teaching tenure at Stern College for Women.

 Rabbi Berman said, “It is now time for Edah to step aside, to acknowledge that our advocacy has been heard by adherents and opponents alike and that as our initiatives are more widely emulated and our vision more deeply planted, our purpose has been substantially advanced. We take pride in knowing the organization has served its purpose well, and that its vision will continue to be pursued energetically by those who have been inspired by Edah. The organization will close, but the vision will continue to grow.”


Background Information

Edah’s agenda has been to engender a Modern Orthodox community passionately committed to all of Torah and mitzvot, in love with the entire Klal Yisrael, open to the richness of secular knowledge, respectful of the Tzelem Elokim we share with all humanity, committed to expanding the opportunities for women in Torah, tefillah and community leadership, recognizing the limits of halachic authority and seeking shared responsibility for governance in areas of non-halachic decision making, and devoted to the use of an halachic process in which the goal was neither chumrah nor kulah but an understanding of the will of God in bringing kedusha into our daily lives.


Edah created the following programs:

  1. Conferences at which new and important ideas were openly discussed and respectfully debated. Edah has sponsored four international conferences, seven regional set of Shabbatonim or topical conferences and four conferences in Israel. Attendance at these conferences ranged from 700 up to 1,500 people.
  2. Web communication and journal – The Edah web-site ( has maintained for over three years a rate of traffic in excess of 300,000 clicks per month. The electronic Journal, a key feature on the Website, is one of the most widely read and highly respected intellectual periodicals in the Jewish world.
  3. Adult education – For five years Edah has offered at the JCC of Manhattan,  advanced Jewish academic and spiritual study. Tapes of those classes, together with a large additional collection of lectures by the finest of Modern Orthodox teachers, comprise the Edah Audio-visual Library. In addition, Edah has completed programming materials for an inter-denominational synagogue project relating Torah to energy conservation.
  4. Advocacy – Edah has undertaken periodic advocacy campaigns in support of the Ne’eman Commission, the use of pre-nuptial agreements, and Orthodox engagement in response to the genocide in Darfur. A Parsha newsletter distributed in fifty Synagogues, and an op-ed project which provides opinion essays to Jewish newspapers across the globe, serve further to spread the vision of a robust Modern Orthodoxy.
  5. The Jewish Teacher Corps – A pilot project, funded for three years to seek out effective ways of intensifying the teaching of Modern Orthodoxy and increasing the flow of young people into careers in teaching in day schools, grew out of conferences and consultations as a demonstration that it is possible to implement creative solutions to Jewish communal problems.