Sunday, March 20, 2005

Unorthodox Orthodox women?

The Jerusalem Post runs yet another feature story on Orthodox Jewish feminists (don't they ever get tired of this?). Most of it is old hat, but one line caught my eye:
Beyond individual rabbis, three sources told The Jerusalem Post that one unnamed institute of Jewish learning in Israel's Modern Orthodox community has been involved in very heated and hushed debates about possibly ordaining women, but is facing severe pressure from both insiders and outsiders.

Anyone know who they're talking about? Is this "unnamed institute" unequivocally recognized as Orthodox? Of the institutes which fit that description, I can't think of one which would conceivably take such a step.

(Note the curious phrases: How can a debate be both "very heated" and "hushed"? Is it very heated in a quiet sort of way? And why does "severe pressure from both insiders and outsiders" only describe the opponents of ordaining women, not its supporters?)

Meanwhile, in the accompanying sidebar about Orthodox "Rabbi" Eveline Goodman-Thau, she uses exactly the right words to confirm my opposition to Orthodox women rabbis:
"I call myself an unorthodox Orthodox woman, and I am trans-denominational," she says, "because I think divided religious movements are part of the patriarchy, so that they [the patriarchy] can remain institutionalized."

Talk about the "patriarchy", and the assertion that a self-perpetuating, self-serving, male-dominated hierarchical establishment is responsible for the ills of society, comes straight out of the ideological feminist phrasebook. It has no basis in Jewish sources, and is a blatant substitution of feminist modes of analysis for those of the Torah.

Orthodox women only have a chance of winning respect for the changes they seek in Orthodox society if they promote those changes out of respect for that society, and base them in sources and forms of argumentation accepted in the halachic community. Derisory language towards the Orthodox religious tradition and community will only undermine their objectives.


Avi said...

I think they are either talking about Machon Hartman or Pardes.

Batya said...

Could be, but it's hard to call Pardes Orthodox, and Hartman also has divided loyalties. Western culture vs Judaism.

Actually, that's the problem, the worship of what they perceive as the superiority of western culture.

Zman Biur said...

My guess was Hartman.

As far as I understand Pardes is de facto Orthodox, though many of the students are not. I don't know enough about Hartman (the institute, not the man).

Regardless, I'm not aware that either institution has ever granted semikhah in the first place, so it would be odd if they suddenly did so just for a woman.