Rabbi Weiss, 2007
|Native name||אברהם חיים יוסף הכהן ווייס|
Avraham (Avi) Weiss (Hebrew: אברהם חיים יוסף הכהן ווייס; born 1944) is an American Modern Orthodox ordained rabbi who heads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in The Bronx, New York. He is an author, teacher, lecturer, and activist. He is founder and dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, an "open Orthodox" yeshiva, and founder of Yeshivat Maharat for Orthodox women.
Hebrew Institute of Riverdale 
The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale was founded in 1971 in a boiler room of the Whitehall Building off the Henry Hudson Parkway by former members of the Hebrew Institute of University Heights in the Bronx who had moved to Riverdale. Weiss, who had finished his training at Yeshiva University a few years earlier, became the synagogue's rabbi in 1973. The congregation has grown to 850 families, and has served as a platform for Weiss’s rabbinical advocacy.
Open Orthodoxy 
Weiss coined the term "Open Orthodoxy" which emphasises on halacha as well as a broad concern for all Jews, intellectual openness, a spiritual dimension and a more expansive role for women. He views halakha, the collective body of Jewish law, as being more flexible and open to innovation than his more traditional counterparts on the Orthodox right. He states that all Orthodox Judaism, including Open Orthodoxy, fundamentally differs from Conservative Judaism in only three areas. First, unlike Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah was given by God at Mount Sinai in its current form. Second, Orthodoxy believes that "legal authority is cumulative, and that a contemporary posek (decisor) can only issue judgments based on a full history of Jewish legal precedent", whereas Conservative Jews believe "precedent provides illustrations of possible positions rather than binding law. Conservatism, therefore, remains free to select whichever position within the prior history appeals to it". Third, Orthodoxy is characterized by ritually-observant members who "meticulously keep Shabbat (the Sabbath), Kashrut (the Dietary Laws), Taharat ha-Mishpaha (the Laws of Family Purity), and pray three times a day", whereas Conservative Judaism "is generally not composed of ritually observant Jews. Thus, only in our community if a 'permissive custom' is accepted, can it be meaningful."
In 1999 Weiss founded Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a modern Orthodox yeshiva, after resiging from Yeshiva University where he had taught for decades. The school’s graduates are often placed at some of the most prestigious college Hillels and pulpits, but the Rabbinical Council of America does not offer membership to the school's graduates. One of Weiss' students, Rabbi Yossi Pollak, led the historic Stanton Street Synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side from 2006 to 2008.
In May 2009, Weiss announced the opening of Yeshivat Maharat, a new school to train women as Maharat, an acronym for the Hebrew מנהיגה הלכתית רוחנית תורנית (halachic, spiritual, and Torah leader), a title he created for a female version of a Rabbi. Its mission, according to its website, is “to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities” in a four-year full-time course. The position of the Agudath Israel of America, however, is that congregations that place women in leadership roles can no longer label themselves as Orthodox.
Rabba Hurwitz 
In June 2009 Weiss ordained Sara Hurwitz with the title of Maharat. She is the first ordained orthodox female rabbi. In February 2010 Weiss announced that Hurwitz would henceforth be known by the title of "Rabba". The move sparked widespread criticism in the Orthodox world, with Steven Pruzansky, vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, calling it "beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism". Under pressure from the RCA, Weiss pledged not to ordain anybody else "rabbah", although Hurwitz retains the title. Hurwitz was appointed dean of the Yeshivat Maharat school.
Weiss has been vocal on many issues, including emigration and absorption of Soviet Jews, clemency for Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, opposing terrorism, supporting Israel, preserving Holocaust memorials, and exposing anti-semitism. In 1992 he founded Amcha – the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, a grassroots coalition which engages in pro-Jewish activism.
Soviet Jewry 
Weiss was an early leader of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, founded in 1964. It was one of the first American organizations working to free Russian Jews, who were not allowed to emigrate during the Soviet era. The group used demonstrations, lobbying, and education to pressure the Soviet authorities into allowing Jews to leave the country.
In America 
Weiss has served as personal rabbi to Jonathan Pollard, an American who spied for Israel sentenced to life in prison in 1987. In 1992 Weiss was one of the signators to a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the release of Pollard. In 1989 Weiss conducted a "freedom Seder" in front of the prison in which Pollard was incarcerated.
At a speech at New York City Hall in 2001 Weiss criticized President George W. Bush for not making a clearer distinction between Arab acts of terrorism and Israeli acts of self-defense. "The trap that he's falling into is that he's drawn a moral equivalency between cold-blooded murder and acts of self-defense," Weiss said. 
In September 2011, Weiss was arrested in front of the U.N. building in New York while protesting the Palestinian statehood bid.
In Europe 
Weiss has travelled worldwide as an activist in various causes. In 1989 Weiss and others protested at a Carmelite convent which had been established at Auschwitz. The group—dressed in concentration camp clothing—scaled the walls of the convent, blew a shofar, and screamed anti-Nazi slogans. Workers evicted them from the site. In 1993 Pope John Paul II ordered the closure of the convent, which had been located in a converted building that had stored Zyklon B gas used to kill prisoners at the camp during World War II.
He protested President Ronald Reagan's visit to an SS cemetery in 1985. He was arrested in 1990 while protesting Kurt Waldheim's visit to the Salzburg Festival, and again in 1994, when he protested in Oslo, Norway, when PLO chief Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Along with Rosa Sacharin of Glasgow, Scotland, Weiss sued the American Jewish Committee in New York state court in 2003 to stop the construction of a path through the Belzec extermination camp in Poland. They were concerned that mass graves at the site would be disturbed by the work.
- Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (synagogue where Weiss is the rabbi)
- Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (founded by Weiss)
- Yeshivat Maharat (founded by Weiss)
- The coalition for Jewish concerns (Amcha) (founded by Weiss)
- Weiss, Avi (2000). Haggadah for the Yom HaShoah Seder. Hackensack, NJ: Jonas Pub. ISBN 0-615-11519-5.
- Weiss, Avi (2001). Principles of Spiritual Activism. Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House. ISBN 0-88125-737-0.
- Weiss, Avi (2001). Women at Prayer: A Halakhic Analysis of Women's Prayer Groups. Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House. ISBN 0-88125-719-2.
- Weiss, Avi (2006). "Avigayil: Savior of David". In Helfgot, Nathaniel. The Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Tanakh Companion to the Book of Samuel. Teaneck, NJ: Ben Yehuda Press. ISBN 0-9769862-4-8.
- Articles in Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility
- Creating an Open Orthodox Rabbinate, with Dov Linzer, Vol. 33/no.597-598 2003.
- A Congregation of Holy Souls: Reflections on 9/11 One Year Later Vol.33/no.593 2002.
- NiSh'ma:Apikorus, with Rebecca T. Alpert, Shmuley Boteach, Lisa S. Lehmann Vol.31/no.574 2000.
- Endthoughts: Stolen Money and Stolen Souls, Vol.27/no.535 1997.
- The Insurmountable Divisiveness of Patrilineality, Vol.25/no.469 1994.
- With Jonathan Pollard, Vol.23/no.453 1993.
- Pogrebin, Abigail (July 11, 2010). "The Rabbi and the Rabba". nymag.com. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- "America’s Top 50 Rabbis for 2012". The Daily Beast.
- Lynton, Michael; Ginsberg, Gary (June 28, 2010). "The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America". newsweek.com. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- Olitzky, Kerry M.; Raphael, Marc Lee. The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary and Sourcebook, Greenwood Press, 1996, pp. 223-224. online
- Rosenblatt, Gary (June 26, 2009). "Between A Rav And A Hard Place". thejewishweek.com. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Weiss, Avi (Fall 1997). "Open orthodoxy! A modern Orthodox rabbi's creed". Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Life & Thought. American Jewish Congress.
- Greisman, Marvin (20-26 September 2006). "Rabbi says his shul and Orthodoxy are both open". The Villager. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- Litvak, Ed (8 September 2010). "A Conversation with Rabbi Josh Yuter". The Lo-Down: News from the Lower East Side. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
- "Rabbi Josh Yuter". Stanton Street Shul. 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
- Harris, Ben (May 18, 2009). "New program to train Orthodox women as non-rabbis". blogs.jta.org. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- "Yeshivat Maharat".
- Mark, Jonathan (March 9, 2010). "Agudah: Avi Weiss Shul Not Orthodox". New York Jewish Week. Jewish Week, Inc. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
- Steven M. ""Rabba" Sara Hurwitz Rocks the Orthodox". Heeb Media LLC. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
- Ami Eden. ""Do 1 Rabba, 2 Rabbis and 1 Yeshiva = a New Denomination?". JTA. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- Staff. ""Avi Weiss: No more rabbas". Moment Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
- "An Evening with Rabbah Sarah Hurwitz". hillel.harvard.edu. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- "Amcha: The Coalition for Jewish Concerns. Rabbi Avi Weiss, President". amchacjc.org. Archived from the original on February 17, 2006. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- "Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry". jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Staff (April 30, 2004). "Soviet Jewry, 40 Years Later". ncsj.org. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Staff (October 25, 1992). "American Rabbis Ask Bush to Give Pollard Clemency". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
- Besser, James D (June 28, 2002). "The Jonathan Pollard Case: A Reflection Of Our Fears". thejewishweek.com. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- "It's Self-Defense, Rabbi Tells Bush". Daily News (New York). June 2, 2001. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- McFadden, Robert D. (April 8, 2002). "Demonstrators Roar Support for Israel". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Fost, Dan (May 2, 2002). "Jewish Groups Battle Media Over Perceived Bias". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Egbert, Bill (July 17, 2006). "Dozens Protest At Un Mission". nydailynews.com. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Weiss, Avi. "Principles of Spiritual Activis\". amchacjc.org. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- "Auschwitz Convent". Jewish Virtual Library. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
- Perlez, Jane (April 15, 1993). "Pope Oders Nuns Out of Auschwitz". nytimes.com. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
- Staff (August 6, 1990). "Austria: The Trojan Guest". time.com. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Staff (December 10, 1994). "Peace Prize Triumvirate Denounced". timesunion.com. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Berkofsky, Joe (July 25, 2003). "Avi Weiss rekindles battle to block camp memorial". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
- BBC, Modern Orthodoxy: BBC summary of Modern Orthodox Judaism
- Rabbis on Their Way Home to Zion, Israel National News, July 1, 2007