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Judaism Jewish Women Worshipping Like Men

Tejwant Singh

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Jewish women worshipping like men

TIA GOLDENBERG 5 hours ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — Chaya Baker was ordained as a rabbi. Tamar Saar has read from the Torah, the Jewish holy scroll. Anat Hoffman demands that women be allowed to pray as men do at a key Jerusalem holy site.

Depending on whom you ask, these women are either pioneers or provocateurs.

They are part of the liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, which allow women to perform rituals typically reserved for men under Orthodox Judaism, the dominant form of Judaism in Israel. They say they are exercising egalitarian worship, which runs counter to the traditions of Israel's Orthodox establishment.

The Reform and Conservative movements are marginal in Israel, where the Orthodox establishment rules many aspects of life, like marriage, divorce and burials, and they have struggled to make inroads here. The Orthodox rabbinate has refused to recognize their rulings, conversions or ceremonies as religiously valid. Under Orthodox tradition, women can't become rabbis, nor can they perform a number of rituals men do.

The liberal denominations make up the majority of Jews in the United States, the world's second largest Jewish community. What has emerged is a growing rift between the world's two largest Jewish communities, which often disagree about religious affairs.

Baker became ordained as a rabbi in 2007. She performs many of the same duties a male rabbi would, such as holding prayer services, counseling congregants and leading study groups. But because of her affiliation to the Conservative movement, she is limited in the ceremonies she can perform. For example, the unions of the couples she marries are not recognized in Israel. They must have a second ceremony either with an Orthodox rabbi in Israel or travel abroad to marry.

Baker, 35, said many Israelis have become alienated by the Orthodox grip on many aspects of society and that the more liberal streams offer a Judaism that jives with a modern Israeli's outlook. She said she sees a growing recognition in Israeli society of the more marginal streams, and with that, a greater role for women in Judaism.

"People are changing their concepts of gender roles within Judaism," Baker said.

Saar is one of the few 12-year-old Israeli girls who are having Bat Mitzvah ceremonies as boys do. In this rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, they study a particular portion of the Torah and read from it during the ceremony.

Saar wore an orange dress accented with a white and orange-pink prayer shawl she made herself as she recited the biblical passage in front of nearly 100 family members and friends in May. Tamar's two older sisters also had Reform Bat Mitzvah ceremonies like hers, and she said more girls in Israel should, too.

"Girls make up half of the world's population, and it is stupid that men are worth more, because we are exactly like them," Saar said.

One of the most prominent groups pushing for the right of women to worship as men do is the "Women of the Wall." The Jewish women's group, led by Hoffman, holds monthly prayer services at the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical Temple compound and the holiest site where Jews can pray, where they perform rituals Orthodox Judaism reserves for men.

Hoffman, often draped in a pink, purple and white prayer shawl, has been arrested for what she says is her right to pray as she wishes. The Western Wall's ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, has called the women "provocative," but an Israeli court has upheld their right to pray there.

The court ruling is one of a string of recent achievements by Reform and Conservative streams in Israel. Israeli officials have proposed building an area for mixed male-female prayer at the Western Wall to accommodate those streams. The area currently has separate prayer zones for men and women.

Last year, Israel agreed to grant state funding to some non-Orthodox rabbis. Many Orthodox rabbis are paid by the government.

In 2010, the Israeli government froze a contentious bill that would have strengthened Orthodox control over Jewish conversions. The same year, Israel began allowing Israelis with no declared religion to marry outside the strict religious establishment — giving hope to many who reject the Orthodox monopoly on family matters. Civil marriages are generally banned in Israel.

Rabbi David Golinkin, who heads the Conservative Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, said that positive trend is attributable to Israelis' search for an alternative to Orthodox Judaism. He said he sees greater recognition for the liberal streams, and the rights they grant women, continuing.

"There's a growing recognition that there is more than one way to be Jewish. It's legitimate to be Jewish in different ways, and the state of Israel has to serve of all its citizens," Golinkin said.

Here's a gallery of images from The Associated Press showing women performing Jewish rituals in Israel.

http://news.yahoo.com/ap-photos-jewish-women-worshipping-men-194745168.html
 

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spnadmin

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oppression |əˈpre sh ən|
noun
prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control : a region shattered by oppression and killing.
• the state of being subject to such treatment or control.
• mental pressure or distress : her mood had initially been alarm and a sense of oppression.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French, from Latin oppressio(n-), from the verb opprimere (see oppress ).


oppress |əˈpres|
verb [ trans. ] (often be oppressed)
keep (someone) in subservience and hardship, esp. by the unjust exercise of authority : a system that oppressed working people | [as adj. ] ( oppressed) oppressed racial minorities.
• cause (someone) to feel distressed, anxious, or uncomfortable : he was oppressed by some secret worry.



Don't we have to leave it to individuals and groups to explain how they have been subject to prolonged periods of unjust treatment, and whether this has happened because of authority exercised by someone else unjustly?

And do not questions of unjust treatment or prolonged servitude on a national scale have to be a topic of national discussion and possibly legal redress?

I can't make the call for someone else. I can form an opinion. I can listen to their pleas and decide whether those pleas match up with facts on the ground, instead of dismissing them as outlandish demands.
 

spnadmin

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Spnadmin Ji,

I totally agree with everything you've written, excellent attitude to have! I'm not sure if it was clear in my post, but I was just giving my personal opinion as a woman who was born and raised Jewish:happykudi:
Thanks jio

I was not so much quarreling with your assessment.. Rather it inspired me to go back to the article and think how there really are grounds for feeling "oppressed" as a woman in Israel, or any ultra-iorthodox settings, where traditions restrict women..
 

akiva

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The following is religion-neutral:

Objective oppression? or subjective oppression? It makes a difference.

By men against women? or women against women (it's well-documented that most social oppression against women in Afghanistan, for example, is from other women -- usually mothers/mother-in-laws/etc)

It's an important question because it impacts directly on Tradition (and Traditional Societal roles) - and THAT has a strong influence on the transmission of religion/tradition on to the next generation. (The groups most successful in transmitting their religion/tradition/heritage on are the groups that are most-faithful to those traditions)

Especially since there ARE differences between men and women -- and there ARE things that men can do that women can't (and vice versa).

Akiva
 

akiva

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T

I was not so much quarreling with your assessment.. Rather it inspired me to go back to the article and think how there really are grounds for feeling "oppressed" as a woman in Israel, or any ultra-iorthodox settings, where traditions restrict women..
The question then is why the VAST majority of women within the Orthodox community do NOT feel oppressed?

Akiva
 

Harkiran Kaur

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Especially since there ARE differences between men and women -- and there ARE things that men can do that women can't (and vice versa).

Akiva
This line always get to me... because reading from a religious text for example, or teaching others, or leading a congreation has nothing to do with physical abilities or physical things one gender or the other can or can not do. Simply put, it's not fair to say that because a woman can not lift as much as a man or run as fast etc, she is not able to perform the same religious rituals...

All restrictions in various religions around the world seem to put women at a disadvantage to men. Its never the other way round. Why is that??? Sadly it's even seen in Sikhi (though not because of the religion itself, as women are supposed to be absolute equals) but in the Golden Temple for example, there are some seva that women are still not allowed to do... and there is absolutely no good reason for it... AT ALL!!!

Just because we have some physical differences, does not mean that men are automatically superior to women and that women should be barred from doing many of the things men are allowed to do!!!
 

akiva

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Agreed -- but DIFFERENT is not the same as SUPERIOR/INFERIOR. "Equal" but "different" is a valid position to take.

(There are some cultures where women have the superior role in social/religious activity, BTW)

Probably MOST examples of "restrictions" in various religions have to do with restricting gender-mixing. (And acknowledge that that "weakness" is on the part of the male)

I mention the differences between men and women because there ARE testable innate differences between the genders (not just strength, and not just in the male's "favour") that make demands for "equality" problematic if those differences aren't accounted for.

Akiva
 

spnadmin

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The question then is why the VAST majority of women within the Orthodox community do NOT feel oppressed?

Akiva
Yours is a very good question. When I posted about oppression, I asked myself the same thing, then hesitated. I decided to post anyway because I was thinking of those that do.

At this time, I am thinking only of subjective oppression and the dilemmas that arise when formal and informal restrictions impact individuals and groups. This thread is about Judaism, so I direct my comments about that.

Women in Israel who are not Orthodox but still must yield to Orthodox rabbis who govern their lives. This is starting to change.

Women who are brought up Orthodox but rebel. They could be in the US in communities where girls are not permitted to finish high school and are married off before the age of 19. Or are subject to pressure by brothers-in-law when husbands die. Or are victim to sexual abuse and the community closes ranks. All these types of stories have been our news.

Even when some women feel equal but different, then my questions are for those who have no way out.
 
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akiva

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spnadmin Ji

the non-Orthodox issue is problematic because there are specific areas (marriage/divorce specifically) where the Orthodox Law is enforced on the state level in order to prevent a "caste" system-- i.e. there are situations that can arise if orthodox law isn't observed that would prohibit any future offspring from marrying according to Jewish law.

But their claim that the Rabbis "govern their lives" is a VAST exaggeration. I'm sure it FEELS that way to them -- hence the "subjective oppression" I mentioned.

The SAME state law gives authority for Muslim or Christian marriages and divorce to the Muslim or Christian authorities.

But those are about the ONLY areas where non-orthodox must yield to Orthodox law -- and they can still get around that via marriage outside the country, common-law living together, etc.

Regarding Brothers-in-law pressuring -- that's been prohibited by mainstream Orthodox law for 1000 years now.

Sexual abuse and it's coverup is a problem -- but no more than in ANY ethnic community -- and the cause is social, not religious.

People who rebel generally leave the orthodox community. (I have 4 sons and 3 daughters, all of whom left, so I have experience with the situation). The ones who stay usually do so for social reasons (specifically family).

I agree that things are changing -- but social/cultural change HAS to be slow if there's any hope of maintaining one's Tradition/Heritage. The world is full of countries in turmoil because their culture/society changed too rapidly -- often encouraged/imposed by outsiders.

Akiva
 

spnadmin

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I am posting this separately because it is a broader point about oppression per se.

Men and women may be objectively different. These anatomical differences restrict women in some ways and men in others. Just one example could be physical strength and endurance needed to perform certain tasks. But objective differences like upper arm strength have norms - most men are stronger, most women are weaker. There are also objective exceptions - the woman whose upper arm strength surpasses that of most men.

Differences when applied in a blanket way by law applies to ALL women, causing an injustice to the exceptional women. To get around this, some countries are ruled in a way that argues for "equal opportunity" under the law. A woman who is the exception won't be excluded from physical opportunity that is available to men.

How many times however have we discovered that the objective difference is not objective at all, but a way of systematically excluding women (or other individuals and groups) from enjoying equal protections of the law.

Women may as a group demonstrate lower spacial reasoning ability on most objective tests of spatial reasoning than most men. A significant minority may surpass the average male in this aptitude. Is that a reason to exclude any woman from being given unbiased consideration in her application to engineering school?

Or the objective difference does not even exist? African Americans are as a group not less intelligent than most white people. Is that an argument for tolerating schooling that is substandard because more resources would only be a waste of resources on a less intelligent group?

Or the objective difference is not objective. Were women excluded from military service because of objective differences? How is it that in times of war women carry out all the duties of men on farms and in the workplace when men are away on the battlefield? How is it they suddenly revert to being "different" when the men return.

Just some thoughts on objective differences rather than on objective oppression.
 
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spnadmin

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spnadmin Ji

the non-Orthodox issue is problematic because there are specific areas (marriage/divorce specifically) where the Orthodox Law is enforced on the state level in order to prevent a "caste" system-- i.e. there are situations that can arise if orthodox law isn't observed that would prohibit any future offspring from marrying according to Jewish law.

But their claim that the Rabbis "govern their lives" is a VAST exaggeration. I'm sure it FEELS that way to them -- hence the "subjective oppression" I mentioned.

The SAME state law gives authority for Muslim or Christian marriages and divorce to the Muslim or Christian authorities.

But those are about the ONLY areas where non-orthodox must yield to Orthodox law -- and they can still get around that via marriage outside the country, common-law living together, etc.

Regarding Brothers-in-law pressuring -- that's been prohibited by mainstream Orthodox law for 1000 years now.

Sexual abuse and it's coverup is a problem -- but no more than in ANY ethnic community -- and the cause is social, not religious.

People who rebel generally leave the orthodox community. (I have 4 sons and 3 daughters, all of whom left, so I have experience with the situation). The ones who stay usually do so for social reasons (specifically family).

I agree that things are changing -- but social/cultural change HAS to be slow if there's any hope of maintaining one's Tradition/Heritage. The world is full of countries in turmoil because their culture/society changed too rapidly -- often encouraged/imposed by outsiders.

Akiva
Maybe yes, maybe no. I was clear to point out I am talking about the kind of oppression that is sanctioned in informal ways ----- very strong and difficult to break free.

And the thread is not about "all ethnic communities."

Subjective oppression is real even if it is not objective, and is used to oppress. The individual who tries to break free is stigmatized and punished whether the oppression is objective or subjective.

I am blessed to have enjoyed a different feast of opportunities than many of my sisters. That requires me I think to be thoughtful of what I enjoy and what has been denied to them. Change the world? Maybe yes, maybe no.

p/s A rabbi "governs" your life when you are the one looking for the divorce. If you are looking at this from an intellectual distance, of course, he just seems to be a player in a cultural drama. We can all afford to be unemotional about it from a distance.
 

akiva

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Maybe yes, maybe no. I was clear to point out I am talking about the kind of oppression that is sanctioned in informal ways ----- very strong and difficult to break free.
Agreed -- but at that point much of the oppression is social, not religious.

And the thread is not about "all ethnic communities."
Also true -- but highlighting an problem (i.e abuse) that is universal requires looking at it from a broader perspective than just one group/religion's point of view -- and one certainly can not blame that group/religion for the problem.

Subjective oppression is real even if it is not objective, and is used to oppress. The individual who tries to break free is stigmatized and punished whether the oppression is objective or subjective.
And I agree that's problematic -- unfortunately it's part of human nature -- a part that we all need to work on.

I am blessed to have enjoyed a different feast of opportunities than many of my sisters. That requires me I think to be thoughtful of what I enjoy and what has been denied to them. Change the world? Maybe yes, maybe no.
A valid point of view -- but is change always good? Studies on Happiness in various cultures around the world show that the most modern, the most "open", the most "egalitarian" are amongst the most unhappy -- and the more "old-fashioned" traditional cultures are the happiest.

(Not that I would want my daughters to live in those cultures necessarily -- but in many cases "progress" isn't)

It's a difficult issue -- made more so by the potential to lose, for ever, a people's traditions and culture if the wrong choice is made.

Akiva
 

akiva

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p/s A rabbi "governs" your life when you are the one looking for the divorce. If you are looking at this from an intellectual distance, of course, he just seems to be a player in a cultural drama. We can all afford to be unemotional about it from a distance.
I specifically said marriage and divorce. And I would say "legal" instead of "cultural".

It's no more "oppression" than secular laws requiring licenses to practice certain professions, or licenses to own a gun, or to drive cars. (Saying that as someone with all three types of licenses.)

The only reason it's seen so is because marriage/divorce carry a large "emotional", personal weight -- and are seen as "rights".

Akiva
 

spnadmin

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I think I have to differ. Maybe because culturally I come from a place where religion tries to poke its nose into my life; but when these pokes are tested they fail in courts of law.

You can challenge my assertion . But then I will be forced to make a list of examples going back to the early 1800's and there is still work to do. My point is - oppression can be etched into the law; or the law can provide release valves for individuals and groups who believed they are denied equal protection and equal opportunity.

And maybe because I come from a place where dozens of religions would all love to have a poke in my life and they do try. Which religion should prevail? In Israel it is open and shut.

Remember now, I am addressing the subjective experience of oppression. I don't expect to change cultures, nations or their laws in forum thread. All I expect to do is voice a different perspetive.
 

akiva

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The problem with "subjective" oppression is: How many people have to feel "oppressed"?

There are movements (men-boy love, for example) that feel "oppressed" because society doesn't recognize their lifestyle as valid.

I don't disagree that there are people who feel oppressed by the strictures and limits placed on them by their society/culture/religion.

The question is: "Why/when should the society/culture/religion change to suit them?"

Up until what point do we say that the problem is with the individual?

At what point do we say that the culture/religion is wrong and needs to change?

Just because "everyone" says so -- or "modern culture" or "modern thought" says so -- isn't a valid argument. (History is full of atrocities carried out in the name of the "people" - where the population really did support the actions)

We need a more objective standard.
 

Harkiran Kaur

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How's this for an objective standard:

That everyone no matter what race, colour, creed, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc deserve and are entitled to EQUAL treatment and opportunity on this planet we call Earth.

It doesn't matter if we have minor physical differences, everyone should be afforded the SAME treatment and the SAME opportunities in this life... PERIOD!

One half of the human race should not be restricted simply because they don't have a third leg.


The problem with "subjective" oppression is: How many people have to feel "oppressed"?

There are movements (men-boy love, for example) that feel "oppressed" because society doesn't recognize their lifestyle as valid.

I don't disagree that there are people who feel oppressed by the strictures and limits placed on them by their society/culture/religion.

The question is: "Why/when should the society/culture/religion change to suit them?"

Up until what point do we say that the problem is with the individual?

At what point do we say that the culture/religion is wrong and needs to change?

Just because "everyone" says so -- or "modern culture" or "modern thought" says so -- isn't a valid argument. (History is full of atrocities carried out in the name of the "people" - where the population really did support the actions)

We need a more objective standard.
 

spnadmin

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An objective standard is needed. I am taking the meaning of objective to be "balanced" and inclusive of multiple points of view.

An objective standard starts to emerge and is taken seriously when laws cease to be statutes alone - that regulate behavior in an uninformed way. Objective standards start to emerge when laws consider the balance between individual and collective needs in terms of equal protections. For that to become a reality the individual has to be as important as the group that enfolds him or her, rather than a faceless and mindless role that is expected to carry out the will of the group.

For any change to happen individuals have to be dignified with the right to information and the right to a voice. When they speak they cannot be instantly typed as heretics, crack-pots, terrorists, insane or subversives.

This a constant struggle. Some are willing to struggle. Others subvert the struggle.

Denying individuals (women in the instance of this thread) access to information and education that challenges beliefs of a group will off course breed women who know nothing but the worldview of that group. They of course will continue to train their children, daughters and sons that different is wrong.

We can see from the thread starter how significant effort is required to make the leap to another perspective on things.
 
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