This post is written by a guest contributor, Chavie G.
While women rabbis are fully accepted within the Conservative and Reform movements, the legitimacy of women Rabbis, or even of women taking on roles traditionally associated with those of rabbis, is hotly contested among followers of Orthodox Judaism. The disagreement intensified when, last week, the Rabbinical Council of America, currently the major Jewish Orthodox rabbinical council in the United States, released a statement forbidding its members from ordaining or employing women rabbis or any women taking on a role that resembles being a woman rabbi.
A quiet-yet-stern backlash ensued from liberal orthodox Jewish communities, with some orthodox Jewish leaders declaring the RCA vote of having been more political than religious. Others pointed out the importance of women’s formal involvement in legal interpretation within a religion so heavily based upon a traditional legal code. The controversy continues to reverberate even into this week, and a lot of really good writing has come out of it about the importance of formal opportunities for women’s leadership in Orthodox Judaism, and about the experiences of the women who are forging the way toward new roles for women in Orthodox religion and society. Continue reading