web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Partnership Minyans Growing Despite Condemnations

Ruth Lockshin of Toronto leads a partnership minyan at a conference in New York of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, December 2013.

Ruth Lockshin of Toronto leads a partnership minyan at a conference in New York of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, December 2013.
Photo Credit: Mike Kelly / JTA

In recent weeks, a flurry of articles by leading Orthodox rabbis and scholars have taken aim at the growing phenomenon of so-called partnership minyans, which feature traditional Orthodox liturgy and mechitzah dividers separating the sexes but allow women to read from the Torah and lead certain parts of the service.

Last week came news of a penalty for a rabbinical school student who had attended one such minyan: Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary had threatened to withhold rabbinic ordination from a young man who had hosted a partnership minyan in his home.

The threat came in the form of a Jan. 13 letter to the student signed by RIETS acting dean Rabbi Menachem Penner, who said women leading services or getting called to the Torah for an aliyah are practices “deemed prohibited by all recognized poskim,” or religious authorities.

A rabbi ordained by RIETS “would be expected to not participate in such activities nor create a public impression that he supports such activities in normative practice,” said the letter.

After news of the threat leaked, YU announced it had secured a commitment from the student, who had successfully completed his course of study but had not yet formally been granted his certificate of ordination, to uphold the institution’s principles. The student is now cleared to participate in the RIETS ordination event on March 23.

The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.

Some changes that proved deeply contentious at the time of their inception are now normative in Modern Orthodox circles, such as women’s Talmud study and women’s-only prayer services. Others are still highly controversial, such as ordaining women clergy.

For Orthodox Jews who support expanding women’s roles, the innovations of partnership minyans are a way to bring some of the egalitarianism they experience in other areas of their lives into Jewish practice without breaking the limits of Jewish law. Rabbi Daniel Sperber, a professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and the most prominent Orthodox authority on Jewish law who backs these minyans, says the halachic principle of “human dignity” provides an opening to allow women to take public ritual roles in the synagogue.

To their opponents, these changes are dangerous deviations made more insidious by the fact that they are happening inside the Orthodox community by Jews who claim to be acting according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a yeshiva head at RIETS, has been the leading voice in the recent chorus of condemnation. In a recent article, he argued that having women lead services or read from the Torah constitutes a religious breach that corrupts the spirit and violates Jewish laws regarding women’s modesty, public dignity and the requirement of deferring to Torah sages.

Partnership minyans have existed on the fringe of the Orthodox community for more than a decade, starting with Shira Hadasha, which was established in Jerusalem in 2002. Over the last decade they have spread rapidly in the United States, including Kol Sasson in Skokie, Ill.; Minyan Tehillah in Cambridge, Mass.; Darkhei Noam in Manhattan and Rosh Pina in Washington. More than two dozen are listed on the website of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, though they don’t all meet every Shabbat.

None of the minyans are full-time congregations with daily services, and they operate without congregational rabbis and meet in rented space, usually in Conservative or Reform institutions. Though they draw mostly from the Orthodox community, they also have attracted Jews raised in the Conservative movement looking for more observant communities. The minyans generally avoid calling themselves Orthodox but say they operate within the letter of Jewish law – even if their services upend centuries of Orthodox tradition.

About the Author: Uriel Heilman is managing editor of JTA. An award-winning journalist, he has worked in a variety of positions for publications in the United States and in Israel, including as New York bureau chief of the Jerusalem Post.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

9 Responses to “Partnership Minyans Growing Despite Condemnations”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    The horrors! Women reading from the Torah! Next thing you know, there will be MIXED DANCING, and from that stems MIXED MARRIAGES. Gevalt!

  2. Benny Gamal says:

    Judaism once allowed "polygamy" so why would later outlaw such marriages? YU is a modern institution which has changed so much (for the worse) since its founding as a Rabbinic Ordination and Preparatory Seminary Rabbi Bernard Revel, that today's YU is run as a (pretty poor) business in which top-level administration executive make huge amounts of money for nothing more that "cutting expenses" of teachers, departments, a legendary sporting coach, all in an effort to cede control to a bunch of right wingnut dingbats who don the latest in CharediWear, but have left their brains and heart at the Sephorim Store in San Francisco.
    THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT YOUR FATHER'S YESHIVA UNIVERSITY!

  3. Benny Gamal says:

    Mr. Shapiro you are a cretin.

  4. The RAMBAM stated that decisions on halakha which may have been affected by the times and societal ethics may be overturned. It is high time that some of the exclusionary laws regarding women be reexamined.

  5. Donn Gross says:

    Allowed or not..it is not to my tastes. On this issue I am going to say; to each his (whoops… her) own.

  6. Itzhak Kremer says:

    Yes – that's more or less what happened with the reform movement. You know where it begins but you don't know where it will end.

  7. Dan Silagi says:

    Itzhak Kremer I guess you didn't catch the sarcasm in my post.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have known for a long time Ruth Lockshin who is featured in the photograph. She is a very fine and knowledgable woman. She is married to Rabbi Marty Lockshin, who for many years has given outstanding shiurim in English and in Ivrit to people in his own shool, to many different audiences, and is world-renowned as the author and translator of a critical edition of Rashbam's commentary on the Torah. Marty, though, 'politically' is on the far-left of Modern Orthodoxy – he was a signatory to the ill-advised Helfgot statement on same-sex issues – and not surprisingly he is very encouraging of his wife's greater participation in services. One of my own daughter's has been a beneficiary of the positive side of Ruth's activities, having chanted one of the parshiyot of Megillat Esther a few years ago at a reading organized by Ruth. These are good people and even those who may disagree with their interpretations should be aware that they have brought understanding and inspiration to many other Jews of very different backgrounds.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
05_04_51---Candle_web
5 IDF Dead in Infiltration, Hamas Tries to Steal Dead Bodies
Latest Sections Stories
Teens-Twenties-logo

What Hashem desires most is that we learn to connect with each other as children in the same family.

Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

Respler-072514

The real solution to bullying is to empower the bullied child.

Time outs increases compliance and positive behavior far more than other forms of discipline

Interestingly, sometimes people who have a very high self-awareness may experience intense reactions to circumstances that others might respond to more mildly.

“You Touro graduates are automatically soldiers in [Israel’s] struggle, and we count on you,” Rothstein told the graduates.

The lemonana was something else. Never had we seen a green drink look so enticing.

On his marriage, he wrote: “This is what I believe: something of the core, of the essence of this meaningful and life-affirming Judaism will not be absent from our home” (1882).

With the recent kidnapping by the Hamas and the barbaric murder of three children – Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, we believe that the best answer to honor the memory of those murdered is to continue building those very communities – large and small – that our enemies are trying to destroy.

Written entirely through Frayda’s eyes, the reader is drawn by her unassuming personality.

Adopting an ancient exegetical approach that is based on midrashic readings of the text, thematic connections that span between various books of the Bible are revealed.

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people”

More Articles from Uriel Heilman
The scene of a gas station in Ashdod that was hit directly by rocket fire from Gaza on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge. The rocket caused explosions and three people were injured, one of them critically.

Despite some limited success, after every conflagration Hamas has managed to re-arm and improve its rocket capacity, as evident in the rocket range on display in this round of fighting.

A new Anti-Defamation League survey finds deeply anti-Semitic views in more than a quarter of the world's adult population.

Over the years, the ADL has been criticized for overstating what qualifies as anti-Semitism, with critics suggesting that some of the statements used to measure bias actually are more indicative of admiration for Jews than anti-Jewish hostility.

“Last year we took the $10,000 from him,” Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told JTA. “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

“More than the Jews have kept the Shabbos (Sabbath), the Shabbos has kept the Jews.”

The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.

Last week, a man who tried to build a pipe bomb for use in New York, Jose Pimentel, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on terrorism charges under laws Halberstam helped draft.

The kosher section at Winn-Dixie’s Boca Raton store is larger than that of many kosher-only supermarkets.

Of the 5,790 bias incidents in the U.S. in 2012 recorded by the FBI, 19 percent were motivated by religious bias, compared to 48 percent by racial bias and 20 percent by sexual-orientation bias, according to the bureau.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/despite-leaders-condemnations-partnership-minyans-grow-among-orthodox-grassroots/2014/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: