I was talking with a lady friend tonight about how certain ideals are ingrained in people that grow up orthodox, and that until these ideals are challenged no one even thinks about it, and this topic came up. I was thinking about how when someone says the words “woman rabbi” I automatically have thoughts of Gloria Steinem and Diane Feinstein types burning their bras in Berkley California and also discount anything or one that has to do with women rabbis.
Now I know a bunch of you are going to dismiss this realization as some liberal hogwash, or some overexposure to JTS or just a plea for attention, but I am now seriously wondering why we orthodox Jews are so quick to judge woman rabbis. I don’t even know if there are any orthodox woman rabbis, but it seems that orthodoxy and having women as rabbis are not that incompatible.
What the heck is a Rabbi anyway?
In some situations, a Rabbi is merely a teacher with a beard who has some certificate on his wall stating that he learned gemara for long hours while his peers were off getting high and going to concerts. Some people may say the Rabbi si only so if they lead a congregation. Then you have those that think the Rabbi si a multifaceted community wide authority whom makes speeches in shul, oversees the local kasharus agency and has awkward conversations about the mikvah with newlyweds.
So besides for leading the congregation in prayer or laining what is the problem? You may say its untznius for a women to get up in front of the shul- but maybe we can profile orthodox women who wish to become rabbis by their looks. If they are all ugly we men will have no issues. But then again what happens when the Rabbi who is like a Capitan of a ship decides to take control of her crew and demand davening and laining privildges- what then? Mutiny?
I see how it can all go awry, so I guess until the women of orthodoxy go on a sex strike to demand entry into orthodox smicha programs- we probably wont have any women rabbis. Which is just as well, because women never seem to be able to deliver dvar torahs or community politics speeches with the same fiery mussar ladden fervor as men.
Thoughts to ponder if it did happen?
Would the rabbi be called a rabbi still or is she a rabbnit or rabbanis?
What would all those men who daven in the women’s section of shuls when women aren’t there do?
Who would make kiddush?
Who would lead hoshanos- surely all that butt bumping and lulav poking is untznius?
Who would sing and lead hakafos?
Who would shake peoples hands for random yasher koachs?
What do we call the husband? Rebetz?
What side of the mechitza would the rabbi speak from?
What would happen in those shuls without women’s sections?
How would the Rabbi speak in shuls where the women sit in a balcony?
I am sure there are issues to take into consideration, maybe you have some to offer.