Beth Din: Why women are not called to To­rah

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE LONDON Beth Din has fi­nally of­fered rea­sons for not al­low­ing women to be called to the To­rah in Ortho­dox syn­a­gogues af­ter an in­quiry from the fa­ther of a forth­com­ing bat­mitz­vah girl.

Hamp­stead Gar­den Syn­a­gogue mem­ber Alexis Brassey had asked last au­tumn whether it was pos­si­ble to give an aliyah to women in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

Although the Beth Din flatly ruled out the idea months ago, Dr Brassey con­tin­ued to press the rab­binic au­thor­i­ties for an ex­pla­na­tion.

Writ­ing to him this week, the Beth Din’s regis­trar, David Frei, stated: “A long es­tab­lished cus­tom prac­tised by the ma­jor­ity of prac­tis­ing Ortho­dox Jews in it­self cre­ates Jewish law. By def­i­ni­tion, there­fore, any syn­a­gogue in­tro­duc­ing women’s aliyot is in con­tra­ven­tion of Jewish law.

“Our moth­ers, grand­moth­ers and great-grand­moth­ers all loved the To­rah no less than our­selves but were never called up to the To­rah. That prac­tice of ‘omis­sion’ hence dic­tates that it is for­bid­den to call women up.”

Mr Frei wrote that, within Or­tho­doxy, change could come only through ap­proval of the “great­est poskim of their gen­er­a­tion”— rab­bis who de­cide ques­tions of Jewish law”.

One rea­son for women not be­ing called up was that it was thought con­trary to kavod hatz­ib­bur, the “dig­nity of the con­gre­ga­tion”. But Dr Brassey ar­gued that mod­ern no­tions of dig­nity dif­fer from an­cient times.

He also sug­gested that a girl might be called up for one of the op­tional aliyot on Shab­bat morn­ing. Tra­di­tion­ally, seven men are called to the To­rah on Shab­bat ac­cord­ing to the re­quire­ments of Jewish law. But syn­a­gogues are free to call more.

Dr Brassey said the rul­ing was rooted “in a de­sire to ig­nore the changes that have taken place in so­ci­ety over the last 2,000 years”.

He added: “We must, there­fore, hope for a more un­der­stand­ing Beth Din in the fu­ture that recog­nises the dam­age of ig­nor­ing so­cial change.

“In the mean­time, I would en­cour­age Ortho­dox Jews and pro-in­clu­sive rab­bis to find ac­cept­able ways to in­crease fe­male in­volve­ment in the ser­vices.”

Users of the new sen­sory gar­den at Nor­wood’s Kennedy Leigh Fam­ily Cen­tre in Hen­don go un­der cover. Bar­net Mayor, Coun­cil­lor Lisa Rut­ter and Nor­wood chief ex­ec­u­tive Elaine Kerr ( right) spoke at the of­fi­cial open­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.