Sunday, October 17, 2010

OU nixes women leading Friday night services 

The Orthodox Union issued a statement saying women may not lead Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services if men are present.

Last week’s decision by the group's board of directors is the latest setback for Orthodox Jews seeking greater roles for women in worship ritual.

“With regard to the matter of a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat services before an audience of men and women, the position of the Orthodox Union is that such practice is improper and constitutes an unacceptable breach of Jewish tradition," the board said.

In April, the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading Modern Orthodox rabbinical body, came out against the ordination of women while encouraging more “halachically and communally appropriate professional opportunities” for female scholars. The ruling was in response to the near ordination of a female rabbi in January, when RCA member Rabbi Avi Weiss conferred the title of “rabba” -- a feminized version of rabbi -- on Sara Hurwitz, a member of the clerical staff of his New York synagogue, The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

Following a harsh rebuke from the haredi Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America and discussions with RCA leaders, Weiss said he would refrain from giving the title to other women in the name of Orthodox unity.

In July, the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a liberal Orthodox association of some 150 rabbis founded by Weiss and Rabbi Marc Angel, declared its support for an expanded definition of women’s communal roles in synagogue life but stopped short of advocating female rabbis.

Hurwitz retains her title and continues in her position as dean of Yeshivat Maharat, which offers training and placement services to women similar to that available in Orthodox rabbinical institutions. Along with Hurwitz, a handful of women serve in rabbinic-type positions at other Orthodox congregations in New York and Israel.


I used to think that Judaism was based on halacha but it turns out the Orthodox just add layers of other stuff, and the Conservative just water it down. What's a Jew to dol There is no halachic reason (at least in main stream halacha) that a women cannot lead Kabbalat -- or a child for that matter. The argument of "obligation" doesn't apply here OU is forbidding women -- why? Notice they don't give a reason because the only reasons are: we didn't do it before (like Moses said no to women when he davened Kabbalat Shabbat?) and the slippery slope argument -- "Jews in the pews are too stupid to understand the difference between Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv" . Don't worry about PHDs, and MD, and Lawyers and accountants, they can't understand this difference -- because why? Because OU says so. No wonder so many young Jews are saying -- what a joke this religion is.


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