Posts Tagged: egalitarian Results 6
Bitya Rozen-Goldberg had no idea she wanted to be a rabbi when she immigrated to Israel from France 11 years ago. In the years since settling in Jerusalem, the 33-year-old tour guide studied Talmud in numerous female settings.
When I was a kid, we had a famous riddle that I heard/told dozens of times. It involved a man and his son who were in a car accident. The man dies instantly, and the son is rushed to the hospital. The surgeon is about to operate on the boy, and suddenly exclaims, “I can’t operate on this boy. He’s my son.”
The author (left) and her son at the Museum of Natural History in New York // Courtesy of Frieda Vizel
As a rule, my husband and I don’t pray in non-egalitarian settings (or, at the very least, in ones that don’t count women in a minyan). So while I have been following the progress of partnership minyanim with respect and interest for a number of years, I hadn’t participated in one on a Shabbat morning until recently, when I attended the bar mitzvah of a friends’ son.
Partnership minyanim — Sisterhood contributor Elana Sztokman wrote a book on the subject last year — try to maximize women’s participation in an Orthodox service by extending women’s roles and pushing at the boundaries of a traditional Jewish legal framework. Women lead introductory parts of the service, have aliyot and read Torah, and there is a mechitza (physical barrier) between the men’s and women’s sections. At this, but not all, partnership minyanim, the mechitza is also on the bimah, with the open Torah passed back and forth during the reading. I enjoyed the way that women joyously sang along and without hesitation or muted voices — unusual at even the most modern of Orthodox congregations — but I found the mechitza to be a big distraction.
It’s nice to see influential men increasingly protest the absence of women presenting at major Jewish events.
In the publication eJewishPhilanthropy.com, Shaul Kelner writes a powerful essay about his pledge to refrain from participating in any all-male panel discussions, and to make his involvement conditional on the inclusion of women.