I was recently asked to sign a petition allowing women to officially leave the kitchen. I was shocked that the kitchen rules were still on the books. I had assumed that the laws pertaining to women being forced to stay in the kitchen were abolished years ago, but they weren’t. In fact, the RCA is holding a conference this weekend to discuss enforcing the women in the kitchen laws and I have been asked to help these chained women leave their homes in search of vitamin D and clean underwear.
The petition is being passed around and already has been signed by well over 1000 people. These people strongly believe that women should not only be allowed out of the kitchen, they should be allowed to take on leadership roles within Judaism, even though they are on a higher spiritual level already and aren’t responsible for much outside the kitchen.
I have been hesitant to post the petition here for many reasons. I have heard that these women wishing to go beyond their allotted mitzvos wish to do things which women have no place doing. I personally couldn’t care less if a woman wants to be a rabbi; it’s the little things that scare me, allowing women to do certain things erode our mesorah.
Yom Kippur Appeals: This is the Jewish version of barn auctioneer and there is no way a woman could handle the suspense or those Yiddish phrases they say to announce the winner of chosson bereshis. What if the woman conducting the auction chas v’shalom were to offer an aliyah to another woman? Women may feel more comfortable bidding for aliyos and other kavods if there was a softer voice doing the auction. Besides, Yom Kippur appeals were always done by men and that’s our mesorah.
Kiddush Club: Can you imagine if women thought their rabbinical status gave them entry into Kiddush clubs? People wouldn’t show up to shul. The whole point of the Kiddush club is so that men can leave shul and talk about men’s stuff in peace. If women were to show up it would throw the vibe off balance. First they would complain about the lack of diet soda, gluten free crackers and then the lack of manners amongst onion slurping herring machers.
Lulav Shaking: Most shul congregants have no idea what the proper way to shake a lulav is as they usually watch the rabbi. What if the rabbi was on the other side of the mechitza? What about the fact that it’s not customary for women besides baalei teshuvas to shake the lulav? Who will we look to for chizuk? Are they going to have men’s and women’s hoshanos?
Rabbi Jokes: Do you think women have a mesorah of corny rabbi jokes? Sure, the rebetzins do, but these new school Rabba’s might make a mockery of the time honored tradition of corny rabbi jokes.
Shkoyach: whose hand am I supposed to shake after doing pesicha? Surely not the rabbis! Are you getting why having women rabbis is tough? A rabbi without the shkoyach abilities can never be a full rabbi.
Bimah Clopping: Do women even have the strength to do a true bimah clop? Will they place a bimah on the other side of the mechitza so that everyone in the shul will hear the call to ya’ale v’yavo? What if there is no bimah?
I couldn’t just post the petition — I had to post it with the above warning – but here it is. I told the folks who did this that I am both pro and against having orthodox women rabbis, but I don’t see any harm in some good debate — I just wish Sara Hurwitz were a frummy so it may help her cause a bit.
To: The Rabbinical Council of America
Signing this petition authorizes the petition organizers to send the following letter with your name to the RCA. Please fill in your name, city, and title if applicable.
To The Members Of the Rabbinical Council of America:
It is disheartening that we have been compelled to write this letter. The release of the RCA’s recent statement regarding Orthodoxy and women’s leadership roles, makes it distressingly clear that the RCA has no intention of supporting women’s entrance into Jewish leadership. While the RCA seems to place more importance on the semantics of titles rather than confronting the underlying issue, Jewish women across America are waiting with bated breath to see whether the RCA will include women in communal decision-making and allow them to fulfill their full potential as members of the Jewish community.
Thusfar in its 75 years of existence, the male structure of the RCA and synagogues around America have dictated our communal development. Even if the emergence of women religious leaders, such as Rabba Hurwitz, may be an uncomfortably large leap for the RCA at this point, there are still many steps that organizations and synagogues could take to include women in communal decision-making and in leadership capacities that would serve the important function of including the creative and powerful voice of Jewish women.
The undersigned, as well as many others in our Orthodox communities, strongly desire to see efforts and support from the RCA to enable women in positions of religious communal leadership. Doing so not only empowers Orthodox women to contribute to their communities in integral ways, but also offers them a goal in their pursuit of higher levels of Torah study. The RCA’s position on women’s leadership creates ceilings and limits for women’s religious and spiritual growth, and truly inhibits the enormous contributions that women can make to our communities. It also creates a significant schism and enormous frustration for women who see that they are so empowered in the secular sphere but see this empowerment is absent in the sphere that is most important to them.
I applaud those brave, learned women leaders who have stood with dignity, committed to their religious learning, halachic observance, and steadfast dedication to their communities, despite the unfortunate lack of support from the RCA. The RCA should encourage its members and affiliates to create communal leadership positions for women in their respective communities. It is my hope that the RCA will realize the enormous meaning their support would have to these women, and the immense benefit this would have in our communities by increasing the quality of Orthodox leadership, the faith of Orthodox women in our religious system, and strengthening observance and commitment to a Torah life of klal yisrael.
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