Ortho­dox ban wom­en­from cler­i­cal roles

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BYSIMONROCKER

ONE OF Amer­ica’s most pow­er­ful Ortho­dox or­gan­i­sa­tions has moved to stop the ap­point­ment of women to cler­i­cal roles in con­gre­ga­tions.

A rul­ing from a panel of rab­bis con­vened by the Ortho­dox Union says women should not be ap­pointed as a rabbi or in any po­si­tion sug­gest­ing the sta­tus of a mem­ber of the clergy.

More than a dozen women have been or­dained at the in­de­pen­dent Yeshi­vat Ma­harat in New York over the past few years. They have used a va­ri­ety of ti­tles, in­clud­ing at least one who has called her­self “rabbi”.

But seven in­flu­en­tial cen­trist Ortho­dox rab­bis — in­clud­ing lead­ers of the rab­bini­cal sem­i­nary at Yeshiva Univer­sity such as Rabbi Her­shel Schachter and the head of the Beth Din of Amer­ica, Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz — found no prece­dents within tra­di­tion to sup­port the or­di­na­tion of women.

“We feel that the ab­sence of in­sti­tu­tion­alised women’s rab­binic lead­er­ship has been both de­lib­er­ate and mean­ing­ful and should con­tinue to be pre­served,” they de­clared. Women should not ful­fil cler­i­cal func­tions such as of­fi­ci­at­ing at life cy­cle events or de­liver ser­mons from the pul­pit in syn­a­gogue, they ruled. How­ever, women should be able to serve in roles such as schol­ars of res­i­dence or di­rec­tors of adult ed­u­ca­tion, they added.

Fe­male role mod­els were “ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal for the spir­i­tual growth of our com­mu­nity” and women should be given “fit­ting ti­tles” which in­di­cate the i mpor­tance of such roles.

Apart from op­er­at­ing Amer­ica’s best-known kashrut ser­vice, the OU runs the Na­tional Coun­cil of Syn­a­gogue Youth and pro­vides re­sources to 400 Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ties.

The OU rul­ing was crit­i­cised by the Jewish Ortho­dox Fem­i­nist Al­liance, which said it failed to “ac­knowl­edge the vast num­ber of mod­ern Ortho­dox Jews and com­mu­ni­ties through­out Amer­ica and Israel that al­ready have fe­male lead­er­ship”.

Women should not of­fi­ci­ate at life cy­cle events’

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