As the person who forwarded this piece to me said in her email, “You likely don’t read the Jewish Press, but I thought you’d be interested in this.” True. (An old joke comes to mind about reading the Jewish Press in the bathroom… but I digress.)

It turns out that one of my more widely-read posts in recent months was this one some months back on Tova Hartman’s visit to NU, which took place when all the sh-t was hitting the fan about Sara Hurwitz’s non-ordination as an Orthodox rabbi. So there seems to be some interest among ye gentle readers about this topic. Good.

So on to today’s post: Rabbi Michael Broyde, a serious halakhic thinker and authority and former head of the Beit Din of America, writes a pretty darn good essay in the Jewish Press. Aside from his little dig at my teacher, Rabbi Avi Weiss, I applaud him for this article. As a good friend of mine pointed out back when all the stuff was happening with Sara, why is it that everyone evidently expects YCT’s folks to do something like this, but no one is asking what YU and the rest of the orthodox community are doing? (This was largely in response to Jonathan Mark’s angry rant about Rabbi Weiss’s capitulation in not calling Sara a rabbi.)

Broyde is essentially making the same move: Why shouldn’t we be demanding of “centrist” Orthodox institutions–institutions that train women in advanced Talmud study, Jewish law, philosophy, etc.–that they create a clerical role for these women? Fine, don’t call them rabbis. As Sara Hurwitz well knows, she cannot lead services from the bima (though a major Orthodox rabbi here in Chicago has recently publicly stated that he sees no reason why not) and cannot serve as a witness in most halakhic matters. But Sara can teach Torah, counsel, and answer halakhic questions just like the rest of us–and probably better than many men who have lousy voices or poor synagogue skills, and who might be illegitimate witnesses for other reasons (see the “rabbis” arrested yesterday for a case in point).

Essentially Rabbi Broyde is saying that the real revolution already happened, and that came when women were given equal access to learning as men. All the rest is commentary–important commentary, but commentary nonetheless. Go and learn.

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