AP’s this week—so this post will be short, for the sake of my mental health and/or time.
I thought that as somewhat of a response to Shira’s post (see below), I’d share this quote from Shlomo Carlebach, an influential 20th century rabbi/songwriter who believed in reaching out to uninvolved Jews in order to bring them back to Judaism. Maybe you’ve heard some of his songs. Either way, these are his words:
“In order to keep Yiddishkeit alive, we desperately need synagogues that do not give aliyot to women and we also desperately need synagogues that do give aliyot to women.”
The quote resonates with me, beyond the issue of giving aliyot (basically, allowing women to say a blessing before the Torah) in synagogues. I believe that it applies to the issue of women rabbis, as well. I believe that women should have the right to be Rabbis. However, I also believe that communities have the right to not have women Rabbis. Judaism does not all need to be the same: the reason we have denominations is because people believe different things. And while within the Modern Orthodox community, down the road, there may be a need to allow women to become Rabbis or Rabbas, I believe that there will always be a part of Judaism, even if a small part, that will continue to not have women Rabbis.
And I don’t believe that this is a problem. Jews are different, and just because I personally would be fine with having a woman Rabbi does not mean that all people would. So people choose their synagogues based on where they fit in the best. This is not to say that movements as a whole should not be grappling with the changing roles of women in Judaism—they should, especially when faced with a growing Modern Orthodox female population interested in taking on leadership roles.
But what’s important to remember when going about these changes is that people can have different beliefs and still all be considered Jews. And that there are some women who want to belong to communities without female Rabbis because that is where they feel most comfortable. They do not believe that it is discrimination, but rather tradition. And while many people feel otherwise, people should be allowed to believe what they want to believe. That being said, many people (myself included) do believe that there are many reasons for increasing women’s roles in Judaism in order to keep up with the times.