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Discrimination Isn’t Comfortable
Mon, 06/20/2011 - 20:00

In “JTS Women Grads Struggling For Pulpits” (June 3), Stewart Ain addresses an important communal issue -- gender bias in the Conservative rabbinate. There is a serious challenge for the Jewish community here—as per the troubling remarks of Rabbi Stephen Wolnek regarding communities being more comfortable with a man.

“It’s nothing against women; it’s just that given two equally good candidates, congregations would prefer to go for the more traditional profile,” Rabbi Wolnek said.

To be sure, the Conservative movement should be proud of the bold move it made to ordain women in 1985. Yet, 26 years later it is upsetting to be reminded that there is clearly a long way to go before equality is achieved.

Further, the Conservative movement is not conveying consistent values—it affirms the equality of women through ordaining women rabbis, and then discriminates in hiring decisions. This is not just a woman’s issue. This is bad for the future of Conservative Judaism, as both girls and boys will see a glaring inability to live by the values the movement espouses.

We must remind the male leadership of Jewish communal life that we are not comfortable with discrimination against women.

New York, NY

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Congregations are collections of individual who have biases, otherwise known as personal preferences, that might manifest in electoral, executive, and employment decisions by or on behalf of congregations. But if congregations and rabbis subscribe to gender egalitarianism in ritual matters while sanctioning gender-segregated Men's Clubs and Sisterhoods, then perhaps they need to acknowledge both hypocrisy and what Torah has taught us for thousands of years about differences between men and women.