Category: Jewish Law / Halakha

Jewish Law / Halakha Judaism

Economics Economics and Social Justice in Jewish Law Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts Politics Random Acts of Scholarship Religion Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts Politics of Exclusion in Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts Politics of Exclusion in Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish Law / Halakha Podcasts Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish History Jewish Law / Halakha Judaism Podcasts Politics of Exclusion in Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish History Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts Politics of Exclusion in Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts Religion Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

By popular request I started recording my classes. While I’m currently in the middle of a series called The Politics of Exclusion in Judaism where we define Who is a Jew by who doesn’t make the cut. We started months ago with Biblical Sources, followed up by Rabbinic sources, and we’re currently in the middle of going through Rambam’s Hilkhot Teshuva. Today’s class covered Hilkhot Teshuva 3:9, discussing Maimonides’ two types of “Rebels” which would cause a person to lose their share in the World to Come.

Jewish History Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Judaism Podcasts Politics of Exclusion in Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

The opinions expressed here are my own and are not intended to reflect those of any individual or organization.

Introduction

This past week the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), voted on whether or not women ought to be admitted to the organization. This was not the first time the IRF considered such a proposition. In 2008, before the advent of “Maharat” or “Rabba“, the IRF recognized that women have been functioning as religious leaders within Orthodox Judaism. In Israel women serve as “To’anot Beit Din” – advocates for women in religious courts and “Yoatzot Halakha” – halakhic consultants regarding family purity. Even without formal titles women serve as Torah educators alongside men and several synagogues employ women in some religious capacity. In fact the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC), under Orthodox Union (OU), sends married couples to college campuses across the country with the expectation that the wife serves the campus Jewish community alongside her rabbinic husband. Regardless of the semantics of titles – or lack thereof – Jewish women assume professional roles similar to those performed by male rabbinic counterparts and thus should not be excluded from conversations affecting the Jewish community at large based solely on gender.

When I was first confronted with this question I supported the theoretical inclusion of women into the group, even if it meant removing “Rabbinic” adjective from the organization’s name. I even submitted to a subcommittee my own proposal defining criteria for women to be treated as rabbinic colleagues given that no comparable title existed at the time.1 And yet despite my earlier positions and after hearing passionate arguments in favor of admitting women, when the IRF finally voted on including women, I voted “no”. My decision may appear at first glance to be inconsistent, dishonest, or indicative of intimidation from opposition. On the contrary, as I will explain in this essay my principles remain intact. My position is not based on the identity politics of gender but on what I perceive to be the role and function of rabbinic leadership in Judaism.

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava