Thursday, July 01, 2010

What's bothering Aryeh Ginzberg?

Aryeh Ginzberg, a Rabbi in the Five Towns, is aggrieved.  On June 17, he published an article in which he screams, tears his shirt, gnashes his teeth, pulls his hair, and confidently tells us we have a new reason to cry on Tisha B'av.  What's bothering the good Rabbi? Well, see if you can guess:
(1) The discovery of yet another pedophile Rabbi
(2) The arrest of yet another Jewish fraudsters
(3) Continued strife in the Holy Land
(4) The destruction in the Gulf Of Mexico

If you guessed 1-4, sorry, but you have a bit of sense, and a familiarity with what is actually happening in the world - two things Aryeh Ginzberg seems to lack. You see, his article was about Sara Hurwitz, and we're being subjected to his Rabbinical wailing  because she was invited to speak at an Orthodox shul. 

 I need to stress that there's nothing unusual about this. Orthodox shuls invite guest speakers all the time. My own shul usually hosts a popular preacher during the Asreth Yemai Teshuva; other shuls bring in guests at other times, and some have what's called "The Scholar in Residence." This is how Sara Hurwitz's visit to the Five Towns was billed, and if that program was typical, she probably spoke after dinner on Friday night, and sometime on Shabbos afternoon. Though your holier-than-thou shuls don't allow women to address men, the practice is far from uncommon at modern shuls such as the one that employs Sara Hurtwitz and the one that invited her to spend the weekend. In short, the invitation was perfectly in keeping with community norms.

So why is Aryeh Ginzberg so distraught? Because Sarah Hurwitz is employed by a liberal synagogue to minister to the women?  He may not like the idea that Sara Hurwitz has been employed by a shul to function as a member of the clergy, but really that's none of his business. H.I.R has a Rav, who made a ruling, and Ginzberg should keep his mouth shut about it - especially because (as I have argued before) Sarah Hurwitz, in her capacity as a clergy-member, will only be performing tasks that are (a) permitted by Jewish law and (b) already performed by Orthodox  Jewish women nearly everywhere. 

It seems odd that Sarah Hurwitz should in Aryeh Ginzberg's view, be disqualified from accepting invitations to be a Scholar in Residence on the grounds that she has also accepted an invitation to formalize her role in a shul with a proper title.If Sara Hurwitz the civilian is allowed to be a guest speaker, why can't Sarah Hurwitz the clergy person be one too?

PS: Harry Agrees. 

UPDATE #2 Aryeh Ginzberg may not like Sara Hurwitz, but Newsweek does. They've put her #36 on their list of the country's 50 most influential Rabbis. Aryeh Ginzberg was not included.

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