Riverdale Orthodox Shul To Have Woman Lead Kabbalat Shabbat Tonight
07/30/10
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In a move that apparently would make history for an Orthodox synagogue in the United States, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale is scheduled Friday night to have a woman lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service where both men and women are expected to be in the pews.

A one-page e-mail letter was sent Friday morning to members of the synagogue, which is led by Rabbi Avi Weiss. The rabbi was recently embroiled in a major controversy over assigning the title Rabba to an HIR spiritual leader, Sara Hurwitz. The letter states: “Kabbalat Shabbat will be led by a woman. This is a halachically acceptable practice, and models our values.” While some Orthodox synagogues have women’s tefillah groups, a woman leading a Friday-night service for both men and women has apparently not been done in an Orthodox shul.

Traditional interpretation of Jewish law bars women from such a public role in the prayer service for various reasons.

The letter to congregants seems to anticipate controversy. “We recognize that this type of tefillah is not practiced in other Orthodox synagogues. We hope other synagogues will make room for this type of inclusive tefillah. Nonetheless, in deference to our own inclusive values beyond women’s involvement, and not wanting to distance ourselves from the Orthodox communal standards, we are not having this tefillah as our only Friday night tefillah, but as an addition to the Main Sanctuary tefillah.”

The letter, in making a halachic justification for a woman leading a Kabbalat Shabbat service, says that in such a service “no distinctions are made between men’s and women’s involvement,” and that it “is not an obligatory prayer service and contains no devarim shebikdushah (liturgical elements like Barkhu and Kedushah which have male leaders)."

The move to have a woman, Lamelle Ryman, lead a Kabbalat service, comes about three months after the Rabba controversy, in which Rabbi Weiss was widely believed to have caved to Orthodox critics who termed the title Rabba to be beyond Orthodox norms. Rabbi Weiss agreed to not use the title again.

Calls and e-mails to HIR Rabbis Weiss, Steven Exler and Hurwitz early Friday afternoon were not returned. A call to Ryman was not returned.

Last Update:

08/08/2010 - 06:27

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Isn't it interesting that all these feminists and feminist-sensitives are so interested in championing women's rights that they endeavor to make them as similar to men as possible? Feminism? More like masculinism... A basic tenet of our faith is that we listen to the rabbinic leaders of our time. A renegade single opinion has no legitimate standing. Any thoughts otherwise belong to other faiths, not ours.
The point of shul is to daven(pray). Some people go there to do just that, daven, and afterwards go eat and smooze with others. Some women however, feel that they want more. They want to stand in front of the congragation, read from the Torah Scroll and lead the prayers. They feel it's their right. But that's not what shul is about. Shul is not about doing what you want. Shul is about doing what G-d wants. Therefore, in shul, we women should stick to just standing with our fellow Jews and praying together. There are plenty of other mitzvahs outside of synagogue, like lighting Shabbos candles in our home before sun-down. Helping the community. Going to the mikva(ritual bath) once a month. And passing down our faith to the next generation, and so on On a side note, prayer is for everone's benefit. It helps us to reflect on ourselves, seek Hashem for assistance, and be grateful for what we have.
It is not the job of Judaism to adopt itself to the modern world. It is the job of Jews to adopt the modern world to Judaism.
I am reminded of when I was threatened by the RCA president to resign from my synagogue because it had become egalitarian. That was in 1992. I was told I would have the shidduchim of my children ruined if I went public about this threat. I was also told my wife and I would burn in Hell. Gee, I guess things have changed and I was the only one worth demeaning.
Sad that after a life time spent championing Jewish causes he'd flush it all down the toilet to gleefully thumb his nose at the institutions of the Jewish Orthodox. Same pattern as all would-be messiahs.
Agree with "abe krieger". This man is NOT Orthodox, and I would call his smicha (Rabbinic ordination) into question. Judaism isn't something fluffy that adapts to its surroundings. American Jews are quick to throw traditional Orthodoxy out the window, and that is one of the reasons why the Jewish world is in such turmoil. Damn the "enlightenment"; it destroyed the Ashkenazi world.
For years, there have been Orthodox minyanim and unaffiliated Orthodox leaning minyanim that allow women to take this role. In the last ten years, there have been some Orthodox minyanim in the States that allow women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat. Regarding KOE. KOE was actually started as the Rabbi Finklestein minyan at JTS and became affiliated with UTJ, a break off of the Conservative movement. As far as I know, it never affiliated Orthodox.
Our favorite Ortho-Feminist Rabbi is at it again. He's like a mischievous little boy who can't keep out of trouble. He figures he did not cause enough machlokes with "RABBAH" so he found another way to stir up trouble. It's time for the Orthodox community to vomit out this troublemaker and let him form his own branch of Judaism. The longer we wait, the more neshomos he will drag down with him. Eventually he and the IRF will split anyways, better it should be sooner than later.
That shul should not be referred to as conservative and not orthodox. There are rules to be followed and traditions not to be broken. We do not change Halacha or the Torah. This is not aceptable in the fum world.
The time has come for driving to shul on Shabbat to take its place in Orthodox Judaism. Cars are more qualified for distance transport and should be welcomed to bring people to a prayer service. Orthodox Judaism is hopefully coming into the Modern world. WE do NOT go places on foot anymore and we need to bring Modern technology forward.
Orthodox Judaism has never sanctioned this, and contrary to Rabbi Weiss' interpretation of halacha, ALL major rabbinic authorities agree that this is not permitted. This has nothing to do with being modern. Modern Orthodoxy believes in Orthodox Judaism engaging in, and embracing, modernity - but it completely rejects the notion that secular society (modern or ancient) should trump Jewish law and tradition. We are Jews first, and "modern citizens" second. We place Jewish values over secular ones. This is how we have been for centuries, and this is how we will continue to be.
Sorry, we don't make it up as we go along. Perhaps Rabbi Weiss would feel more comfortable in a Reformist Temple.
While delighted to hear of Rabbi Weiss' allowing women's participation in the the leading of kabbalat Shabbat. While still not the norm within Orthodoxy, it by far is not the first Orthodox minyan to have women lead kabblalt shabbat. I think it honest to give credit to those institutions which paved the way for this the HIR synogogue. Kehilat Orach Eliezer, KOE, an Orthodox minyan on the upper west side, has always had women lead kabbalat Shabbat services. This shul has been in existence for 18 years. I am surprised that this detail was omitted. Additionally, Kehilat Orach Eliezer was the first Orthodox minyan to hire a woman not only to serve within the clergy but to serve as the rosh kehilah, the spiritual leader of the minyan. The Jewish week would do right to mention KOE's innovation.
While delighted to hear of Rabbi Weiss' allowing women's participation in the the leading of kabbalat Shabbat. While still not the norm within Orthodoxy, it by far is not the first Orthodox minyan to have women lead kabblalt shabbat. I think it honest to give credit to those institutions which paved the way for this the HIR synogogue. Kehilat Orach Eliezer, KOE, an Orthodox minyan on the upper west side, has always had women lead kabbalat Shabbat services. This shul has been in existence for 18 years. I am surprised that this detail was omitted. Additionally, Kehilat Orach Eliezer was the first Orthodox minyan to hire a woman not only to serve within the clergy but to serve as the rosh kehilah, the spiritual leader of the minyan. The Jewish week would do right to mention KOE's innovation.
Orthodoxy is an affilition. So while KOE may be halachick it is not Orthodox unless it joins the OU, or other established orthodox institution.
Thats a ridiculous statement. My yeshiva wasnt part of the orthodox union or any other "affiliation" but it was as litvish as any other.
Why do you say "orthodox shul" in your title? What would the synagogue have to do in order for your paper to stop referring to it as "orthodox"?
THe HIR is a member of the Orthodox Union and is therefore Orthodox.
Kol Hakavod! The future of orthodoxy.
No, this is not Orthodoxy. קול באשה ערוה. Simple halacha l'ma'aseh: a woman can't sing for/in front of men.
The time has arrived for women to take their place in Orthodox Judaism. Women are qualified and should be welcomed to lead a prayer service. Orthodox Judaism is hopefully coming into the Modern world. WE do NOT live in stetls anymore and we need to bring our Modern ideas forward.
Is every value of the Modern world (with or without a capital "M") worthy of adoption? Saying that some practice is "Modern" is a poor excuse for a justification for deviating from past tradition. Calling this synagogue Orthodox is no longer accurate.
While encouraged to hear about HIR's involvement of women in leading the kabbalat Shabbat service, it is was actually Kehilat Orach Eliezer, KOE, an Orthodox minyan on the upper west side of Manhattan which was the first minyan which permitted women to lead kabbalat shabbat. KOE has had women lead kabbalat shabbat for the 18 years it has been in existence. Moreover, KOE was also the first Orthodox minyan to not only hire a woman as clergy for their minyan. But, they appointed a woman to be the spiritual leader (Rosh Kehilah), the Marta d'Atra for the shul. The Jewish week should recognize the courage and vision of this KOE when speaking about innovations within Orthodoxy.

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