Saturday, May 06, 2006

Unorthodox Orthodoxy - Female Rabbinic Ordination

As a person who hopes to be starting my own Smicha (Rabbinic Ordination) process in the fall, developments in ordination practice already interest me. As someone who intends to get Orthodox Smicha, Orthodox ordination engrosses me even more. And as someone who plans on attending an Orthodox Yeshiva/Rabbinic School (YCT) that often gets criticized for its left leaning tendencies and is slandered by individuals saying that the school is paving the way toward ordaining female Rabbis, a news story about a women being ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi certainly caught my eye.

The very notion of a women being ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi is grating for me, not because of any anti-feminist feelings, but precisely because it has been the tool of attack against Open Orthodoxy for a long time now. This, despite clear statements from the movement that they carried no intentions to upset the fabric of Orthodoxy and Halacha and certainly carried no plans to ordain women. Now that it has "happened", and I put that in quotes because the verdict is still out, and depending on who you ask, her ordination is anything but Orthodox, I fear a backlash against Modern Orthodoxy in general, and certainly against Open Orthodox and other liberal orthodox spheres. Once again though, I find that I'm inadequately prepared to rule on the issue at hand, because the reality is, as one yet to actually start his studies for Smicha, I really don't know the issues at hand and the relevant Halacha (Jewish Legal Code) that is affected.

To that end, all I can say is that my first reaction to this story is not positive. I applaud advancement of women to the fullest extent within Halacha. I encourage there study as well as their input. However, at the same time, I believe that equality is not only achieved through sameness, and that in fact, we loose a lot when we fail to delineate in our society. Women have a lot to contribute within their roles as women, equally so to men. I just wonder what price we pay when we start demanding that sameness be applied to create equality.However, this can only be my first reaction until I truly know what is involved. I applaud her desire and motivation to learn, to teach, and be involved in the Jewish community, just question the approach. I reserve judgment on the Halachic issues for now until I know more, and rely instead on my teachers and on traditions.

A Hat Tip to Esther over at Jewlicious for bringing this story to my attention. (I know you like to be known as "from Urban Kvetch" or one of your other personal blogs more, but I read it at Jewlicious this time.) The Jewlicious thread can be found [here].

View the Story as it appeared in the Jerusalem Post[here].
View what seems to be the source for much of the article at this JVL Page [here].

Other Articles and Blogs that comment on the issue and provide perspective can be found below: Article - Quiet Revolution in the Synagogue
In Context Blog - They Call Her 'Rabbi'
Am Echad Blog - Mazel Tov Dr. Rabbi Ner-David
Some may remember AmEchad's early supportive comments to this blog, much appreciated.
Emes Ve-Emunah Blog - Orthodox Feminist Haviva Ner-David: Rabbi
Emes Ve-Emunah Blog - Female Rabbis in Orthodoxy
Hirhurim Blog - So-Called-Orthodox Women Rabbi
Hirhurim Blog - The Ordination of Women

**An UPDATE: With the passage of time, a few other worthwhile articles have appeared in the blog world. I'm not about to list everything that's come out, but I wanted to link to a few other sources that offer some interesting perspectives and side notes that havn't been covered yet. They are below:
Drew Kaplan's Blog - On the Grammatical Question of Women Rabbis
From NY to London - Female Rabbis
From NY to London - On Women and Judaism
I put up the second source from Alexis (From NY to London) because I found myself nodding my head in agreement to just about everything she expressed. **

One of the things I noticed from a lot of the comments on other blogs is that both sides seem to be responding immediately from an emotional gut type perspective. I really encourage and desire feedback and comments, but I would prefer that they were thought out, insightful comments, not emotionally explosive, incite-ful comments.

In other news, Israel saved Abbas from a Hamas assassination attempt today. Read the brief article [here].


deycart said...

r u a jew

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you about intrinsically separate roles for women and men. This argument was made 100 years ago for, among other things, denying women suffrage.
its a nice catchphrase but it doesnt explain why being a rabbi is not a woman's role, or why an unfeminine woman should not be a rabbi.

Purim Hero said...

I agree with you that unfortunately the differences between men and women have been used countless times to justify despicable acts and gross inequality. However, I disagree that there is a necessary evil to acknowledging that the differences exist. Recognition of difference shouldn't require a value judgment as a response. Rather, we should recognize the complimentary nature that exists between man and woman, and realize that doing so brings a heavy responsibility but also a beautiful opportunity to really come into a fullness and richness that happens when the world plays out as it is meant to.

Now, does that mean that women shouldn't be Rabbis? That's another question. My Jury is still out on that one until I know more of the relevant issues involved. However, it is clear to me that man and women are indeed different, and that both energies and perspectives are necessary in creating a healthy whole.