INSTITUTE OF TRADITIONAL JUDAISM, THE (ITJ), also known as the Metivta, the educational arm of the Union for Traditional Judaism. The ITJ was first established in 1991 in Mount Vernon, N.Y., under the rectorship of the renowned talmudic scholar Rabbi david weiss halivni . Its dean, Rabbi Ronald D. Price, said that it would represent the motto coined by its reish metivta (Rector), emunah ẓerufah ve-yosher da'at, "Genuine Faith and Intellectual Honesty." The founders of the ITJ sensed that the polarization of the Jewish community toward the right and the left created a vacuum in the middle. They observed that the Orthodox establishment had grown increasingly insistent on communal norms that went well beyond actual halakhic guidelines, while the liberal movements were abandoning a commitment to Jewish law altogether. The ITJ's founders noted that Orthodoxy was adopting debatable strictures – such as the rejection of joint synagogue councils with the non-Orthodox and the proscription of hearing a woman's voice – as universal standards. At the same time, they were convinced that in asserting a perceived moral imperative to supersede halakhic norms on the question of ordaining women as rabbis, the Conservative movement had opened itself to other infractions common in the Reform community such as the ordination of homosexuals, patrilineal descent, and intermarriage. The ITJ's objective was to create the needed outreach style rabbi who would be fully committed to halakhic observance while engaging the non-halakhic community with warmth and a willingness to work with all Jews regardless of affiliation. At least as crucial was the sense that no existing institute of higher learning was prepared to accept both the notion that "God stepped into Man's history at Sinai" and a commitment to the value of the scientific study of sacred texts. As Rabbi Halivni, himself, said at the opening of the Metivta "our library will have Wellhausen in it, but not on the top shelf " – implying that the critical method of literary scholars would have its rightful place in the curriculum but would not be at its theological core. It was the hope of the founders that the school would be a bulwark for acceptance of the sacredness of biblical and rabbinic texts and that this very confidence in their holiness would also allow all methodologies to be applied to them in the search for their true meaning. Such an eventuality could only come about in an atmosphere uninfluenced by the religious politics of the day. The leadership of the Institute regarded it as a transdenominational halakhic rabbinical school, although its graduates eventually found their place in Orthodox communities or non-affiliated traditional communities as well as in Jewish education and communal service. Because the original founders of the Metivta were products of both the Conservative movement and Orthodoxy, there was a question at the outset regarding the status of the meḥiẓah in synagogues and whether or not such was necessary. Once Rabbi Halivni announced his opinion that le-khathilah (a priori) a meḥiẓah, or at least separation of men and women was necessary and established that ITJ worship services would be with a full meḥiẓah, the issue subsided. In 1995 the Metivta, along with the Union for Traditional Judaism moved to Teaneck, N.J. In 2005 the school began offering classes at a satellite site in the upper West side of Manhattan in addition to Teaneck. It also created two programs in addition to the semikhah track. The first was a co-sponsored Masters in Public Administration with emphasis on Jewish communal service with neighboring Fairleigh Dickinson University. The second was a mekhinah or preparatory program for men and women wishing to have an immersion experience   in classical text study who would then go on to any rabbinical school, including the Metivta, or would return to lay life with the tools for lifelong learning. Aside from Rabbi Halivni and Rabbi Price, the founders of the Metivta included philanthropists Horace Bier of Livingston, New Jersey, and Burton G. Greenblatt, of Teaneck, N.J., theologian Rabbi Professor David Novak, and master Jewish educator Dr. Miriam Klein Shapiro. The Metivta faculty included Rabbi Halivni, Hakham Isaac Sassoon from the Sephardi (Syrian) community, Rabbi Professor Novak, Rabbi Price and others ranging in background from the Mir yeshivah to graduates of Yeshiva University's RIETS, and graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary. (Ronald Price (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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