Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z
faqs.org - Internet FAQ Archives

soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Observance, Marriage, Women in Judaism (4/12)
Section - Question 8.2: What is the Conservative view of the role of women in Judaism?

( Single Page )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Cities ]


Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Observance, Marriage, Women in Judaism (4/12)
Previous Document: Question 8.1: What role do women play in Judaism?
Next Document: Question 8.3: What is the Reform view of the role of women in Judaism?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

                                  Answer:
   The past 30 years have seen a revolution in how Conservative Judaism
   views women. Conservative Judaism believes in the equality of men and
   women, and, where necessary, has produced responsa and innovative
   rituals to address religious needs in this area. The Committee on
   Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) has approved a number of responsa that
   deal with the role of women in Jewish law. In all of the areas listed
   below, responsa exist that halakhically justify women's active
   participation in synagogue life:
     * Publicly reading the Torah (ba'al kriah)
     * Being part of the minyan
     * Being called to the Torah (aliyah)
     * Serving as cantor (shalich tzibbur)
     * Serving as rabbi and halakhic decisor (posek)
     * Wearing a tallit and tefillin
       
   Note that a congregational rabbi may or may not decide to adopt
   particular rulings for the congregation. So some Conservative
   congregations will be more or less egalitarian than others.
   
   However, there are other areas where differences remain between men
   and women, including:
     * Matrilineal descent. The child of a Jewish mother is born Jewish;
       the child of a Jewish father is born Jewish if and only if the
       mother is Jewish.
     * Serving as Witnesses. Women do not usually serve as legal
       witnesses in those cases where Jewish law requires two witnesses.
       One opinion of the CJLS affirms that women may serve as witnesses.
       However, most Conservative rabbis currently affirm this only as a
       theoretical option, because of concern for Jewish unity. A change
       could result in many Orthodox Jews refusing to recognize the
       legitimacy of many marriages and divorces. A current Conservative
       solution is in the area of weddings: A new minhag is to use
       Ketubot (wedding document) with spaces for four witnesses to sign;
       two men, and two women.
     * First and Second Aliyot. One position of the CJLS is that
       daughters of Kohanim and Leviym can be accorded the same aliyot
       that are normally accorded to Kohanim and Leviyim, whether they
       are single or married. Their status regarding being called to the
       Torah should not be determined by the lineage of their husbands,
       but by their own paternal lineage. [Rabbi Joel Roth "The status of
       daughters of Kohanim and Leviyim for aliyot" 11/15/89] Another
       position the CJLS is that women do not receive such aliyot. The
       Va'ad Halakha of the Masorti movement has also ruled that women do
       not receive such aliyot. [Rabbi Robert Harris, 5748].
     * Pidyon Haben. There is precedent, though not with unanimity, in
       the halakhah for a Bat Kohen to serve equally with other Kohanim
       with respect to Pidyon ha-Ben. There is strong opinion in the
       Talmud supported by later authorities that she may receive some of
       the priestly dues designated for Kohanim. Even when married to a
       non-Kohen, she does not become a zarah like her husband, but
       retains certain kehuna privileges. Women may thus perform Pidyon
       ha-Ben. [Rabbi Aaron Blumenthal, 1977]. Rabbi Joel Roth notes that
       Rishonim (rabbis from the 10th to 16th centuries) are divided on
       this issue, and cautions that this issue requires more detailed
       study. [1989]
     * Pidyon Habat. Conservative Judaism prohibits performing Pidyon
       Ha-Bat on a newborn daughter. Pidyon Ha-Bat is a newly proposed
       ceremony that would mark the redemption of a newborn daughter; the
       CJLS has stated that this particular ceremony should not be
       performed. Other means, such as a Simchat Bat, should instead be
       used to mark the special status of a new born daughter. [CJLS
       teshuvah by Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik, 1993]
     * Nesiat Kapayim [The Priestly Blessing]. The CJLS has approved two
       positions on whether women may participate in Nesiat Kapayim. The
       Va'ad Halakha of the Masorti movement has approved one position.
         1. A Bat Kohen may participate in Nesiat Kapayim because: (a)
            The word "banav" in Numbers 66:23 does not mean sons only,
            but rather children. (b) The role of the Kohen is either to
            serve as the medium for G-d's blessing to israel, or to pray
            for Israel to be blessed--either purpose is appropriate for a
            Bat Kohen who possesses lineal sanctity. (c) Nesiat Kapayim
            is not de'oreita. (d) There has been a steady development of
            this ritual since Temple times, and there is no reason for
            the development to stop. (e) A Bat Kohen is permitted to
            receive other special honors accorded to Kohanim, including
            Birkat Hamazon and Pidyon Haben. [Rabbi Mayer Rabinowitz,
            1994]
         2. A Bat Kohen is not permitted to participate in Nesiat Kapayim
            because as a continuation of a Temple ritual, the Priestly
            Benediction should be performed by those who were
            authentically eligible to do so in the Temple. Women of
            Priestly descent may benefit from the perquisities of
            Kehunah, but they are excluded by the Torah from peforming
            the rituals of the Kohanim in the Temple. Therefore, this
            should only be peformed by male Kohanim. [Rabbis Stanley
            Bramnick and Judah Kagen, 1994]. The Va'ad halakha of the
            Masorti movement, in a teshuvah by Rabbi Reuven Hammer, 5748,
            also states this position.
       
   If you want more information on the Conservative positions, you should
   be aware that there is a set of teshuvot on all of these areas
   developed by The Rabbinical Assembly. These teshuvot have all been
   published in the following sources, all available from the United
   Synagogue Book Service. However, every Conservative synagogue library
   should have each of the following books in stock; if they do not,
   please bring it to the attention both of your librarian and rabbi so
   that they can rectify the omission.
     * "Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the
       Conservative Movement 1980-1985"
     * "Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the
       Conservative Movement 1986-1990"
     * "Responsa 1991-2000" (recently published)
     * "Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the
       Conservative Movement 1927-1970" [Three volume set]
     * Robert Gordis "The Dynamics of Judaism: A Study in Jewish Law"
       Indiana University Press, 1990 [See especially chapters 10 and 11]
     * Simon Greenberg, editor "The Ordination of Women as Rabbis:
       Studies and Responsa" JTS, 1988
       
   If you are looking for statistical information on women in
   Conservative Judaism, LEARN @ JTS ([5]http://learn.jtsa.edu/), the
   free educational outreach website from the Jewish Theological
   Seminary, has a section on statistics. The information on this website
   has been excerpted from "Conservative Synagogues and Their Members:
   Highlights of the North American Survey", Edited by Jack Wertheimer,
   which is available from JTS Press. Another source of information on
   this topic is "Conservative Jewry in the United States: A
   Sociodemographic Profile" by Sidney Goldstein and Alice Goldstein. JTS
   Press books are available at this website:
   [6]http://www.jtsa.edu/jtspress/

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA




Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Observance, Marriage, Women in Judaism (4/12)
Previous Document: Question 8.1: What role do women play in Judaism?
Next Document: Question 8.3: What is the Reform view of the role of women in Judaism?

Single Page

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
SCJ FAQ Maintainer <maintainer@scjfaq.org>





Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM