Summer 2001

Orthodox Feminist Sees Orthodox Women Rabbis in Near Future

Orthodox Jewish women are undergoing "credentialization," according to the American Jewish Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg. President of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Greenberg was the keynote speaker at a conference on War and Peace in Jewish Culture, whose opening session was part of the 29th Board of Governors Meeting events.

In Israel, she explained, one of these credentials is that of to'enet, or female religious court pleader, and it is a growing phenomenon. Though not yet in America, she told her audience. On the other hand, New York City has seen the installation of a madricha ruhanit, which translates as a woman spiritual counselor. There have been female Congregational Interns. The last position proved not to be successful, but in Greenberg's opinion, "it did put into people's minds the idea that women could be Orthodox rabbis."

These and other "small signs," as she defined the slow but steady pace of developments in the Orthodox world, show a growing tendency to giving its women credentials. As a result she has changed her mind.

"I never thought Orthodox women would function as pulpit rabbis," Greenberg commented, before admitting, "but I see more and more signs of it."

A "rebbitzen," the wife of a well-known and sometimes controversial rabbi, Blu Greenberg believes "there is no looking back" as Orthodoxy enters the 21st century. The conference was organized by the Department of Jewish Thought.


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