Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why I don’t think I could become Orthodox (part three)

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Association has proven that it’s possible to be Orthodox and feminist. But no amount of reinterpretation is going to make it possible to be both Orthodox and egalitarian.

A Jewish egalitarian believes that women should have equal opportunities to participate in, and/or to lead, all Jewish rituals.

It’s not the mechitzah, the physical barrier and/or balcony separating women from men in an Orthodox synagogue, that’s the issue for me.

It’s everything that goes with it.

Or, to be precise, it’s everything that doesn’t go with it.

Many Jewish women find meaning and purpose in the role assigned to women by Jewish tradition. If that’s their choice, and they take satisfaction in their portion, kol hakavod, they have my respect. That has been the way of Jewish women for generations.

But some of us women seek a wider path, one that I’d have to give up if I became Orthodox.

As an Orthodox Jewish woman, I could never again:

1. be counted in a minyan;

2. lead any part of any religious service;

3. have an aliyah;

4. leyn/read Torah;

5. chant a haftarah;

6. lead kiddush;

7. lead birkat hamazon,

unless I were davvening/praying in a Women’s Tefillah (Prayer) Group.

But when it comes to women within Orthodox Judaism, it’s not just Orthodox practice that concerns me, it’s also Orthodoxy attitudes.

The tendency on the part of the Orthodox community to separate men from women seems to be getting stronger every day.

Yes, I do mean “men from women.”

Not men and women.

Not women and men.

Not even women from men.

Men from women.

Which brings me to the thoughts that I’ve been trying to formulate into a cohesive post or posts ever since GoldaLeah, of Go West, Young Jew, published her Wednesday, November 09, 2005 post, “Standing Again at Sinai I (Feminist Judaism).”


Blogger Drew Kaplan said...

Well, just a couple items to take off of your list: you can take kiddush off, since women can do kiddush. Also, a woman can lead a zimmun for women. Aside from that, you make an interesting point.

Tue Apr 04, 06:58:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Drew, here's a sh'elah for you (you might as well get in practice)--isn't birkat hamazon one of the time-bound obligations that women are required to fulfill (er, chiyuv?) Assuming that I'm correct--always a large assumption, granted--why can't a woman lead a zimmun of women *and/or men?*

Wed Apr 05, 12:44:00 AM 2006  

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