Thursday, June 24, 2010

What about Devorah?!

On the comments for Frum Satire's post that I discussed in my previous post, on the issue of female leadership being against Halacha more generally, one person asks, "What about Devorah?"

So what about Devorah?

How does her presence in Tanach not present a huge problem for poskim who say women can't be in leadership positions, women can't be rabbis, women can't be witnesses (and certainly not judges!)?

Devorah's position as a shofet (i.e., a judge) made her responsible for applying (and thus interpreting, because the former really necessitates the latter) the laws of the Torah to specific cases in Israel. This is certainly a position of leadership.

With this as a precedent, how can anyone said its halachically forbidden?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Female Presidents at MO Shuls?

This post on Frum Satire's blog really intrigued me. He says:

Dov Bear has a post about a shul in Syracuse (I know the rabbis kids from yeshiva, and have davened there many times) that is being kicked out of the NCYI National Council of Young Israel, because it has a woman president. I always thought that Young Israel was supposed to be “modern” orthodox, yet they have such a rule on the books. Can anyone really say it’s wrong to have a woman as shul president? It just sounds like another rule to prevent women from being leaders in orthodoxy. Although I doubt having the ability to get up at shul and announce the times for mincha that week would be justified as being a leader.
Anyone know if this is true? And why on earth it would be inappropriate to have a woman as a president of an MO (or even an O) shul?

I never even really thought about this as an issue. I just never even considered it. But while I would expect the hoopla over a female rabbi (I didn't even think I'd see such a daring move in my lifetime), this type of reaction over a female president doesn't make sense to me at all.

The "President" position of a shul is certainly a secular invention.... so what's the big deal? And then, when I think about the larger Orthodox organizations, it seems that none of them have women in leadership positions unless its a woman's organization (Am I right about this? I might not be).

Sexism within religion is more justifiable, I guess (I don't really think so, but all I'm saying is that people can claim that this is how "God" or "the rabbis" wanted it...and it's hard to disagree with a God who doesn't [seem to?] communicate back or with people who are long dead), but I don't see how sexism within the secular aspect of the culture can be justified. Especially when there are so many highly educated, highly accomplished women.