Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Male Rabbis says Male Rabbis only (surprise!)

I'm probably reading this wrong, but it sounds like Gil Student is arguing in his Haaretz op-ed that smart OJ women shouldn't care that they can't be Rabbis because the synagogue is so last century. He writes:
"The synagogue is the most visible symbol of Judaism but also the weakest form of religious experience. To an outside observer, the goings on of a synagogue seem like the most exciting part of Jewish life but insiders recognize this as a misunderstanding. [SNIP] This focus on synagogue roles is tragically ironic in the Internet age. While our society is decentralizing, we dare not elevate the brick and mortar aspects of religion"
But if that's true, why does Gil bother to identify himself as Rabbi? If the title is worth so little, why does he use it? And by that logic, why do we need male Rabbis?

The answer, of course, is the title is valuable. It commands respect. It opens doors. Moreover, there are many teaching and communal positions that are either open to Rabbis only, or offer better pay to men who have received smicha.

Why should a capable woman be denied a valuable credential - and the career opportunities that come with it - simply on the basis of her gender? We wouldn't allow a Ph.D or M.D program to withhold their degree from women. What's different about a rabbinical degree? Even if you argue that women can't lead synagogue, it doesn't follow logically that they must therefore be prevented from earning a degree that will other doors for them

Women don’t need a title, or a synagogue affiliation, to teach Torah and influence thousands – so why do some Orthodox circles waste so much effort insisting that…
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