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January 26, 1979 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-01-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

16 Friday, January 26, 1919

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Women Rabbis to be Major Topic of Rabbinical Assembly

By REENA FRIEDMAN

NEW YORK (JTA) —
Members of the Rabbinical
Assembly will decide at
their 97th annual conven-

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tion Sunday through
Thursday in Los Angeles
whether or not women are
to become spiritual leaders
within the Conservative
movement. Their moment-
ous decision will be based on
recommendations made by
the Commission for the
Study of the Ordination of
Women as Rabbis, an inter-
disciplinary advisory body
charged with studying all
aspects of this complex
question.
Soon after the commis-
sion presents its report, the
RA membership and the
administration of the
Jewish Theological Semi-
nary of America (JTS) will
independently evaluate it,
since there is a tacit agree-
fnent that no one arm of the
Conservative movement
may legislate for another.
Created in September
197j by Dr. Gerson D. Co-
hen, JTS chancellor, the

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commission developed out
of a compromise resolution
passed at the 1977 annual
convention of the RA after
lengthy and heated debate.
The original resolution,
which encouraged the JTS
"to consider and admit to
the Rabbinical School all
qualified candidates re-
gardless of sex," was ulti-
mately tabled.
At that time, Cohen
formed a study group to
deal with the question
and agreed to accept its
findings "only if-all ac-
tivity is suspended for
two years so our faculty
will not be exploded."
According to Rabbi Gor-
don Tucker, assistant to
Cohen and executive direc-
tor of the Commission, the
JTS will draw upon the
legal expertise of its out-
standing Talmudic scholars
as well as the experience of
other commission members.
Consideration will also be
given to the written state-
ments received from RA
members throughout the
country whose opinions,
legal and otherwise, have
been solicited.
Tucker made it clear that
a definitive halakhic deci-
sion against the ordination
of women could override a
show of public opinion to the
contrary. -
According to Rabbi David
Weiss Halivni, chairman of
the JTS' Department of
Talmud and Rabbinics, who
has previously opposed the
ordination of women, "The
only real halakhic problems
would be marriage and di-
vorce since women cannot
be witnesses in ritual mat-
ters." That is, under Jewish
law, a woman may not be a
witness at a wedding (where
the rabbi's role is to be sure
that everything is done
properly , and that the two
witnesses are legitimate),
not can she serve as a judge
on the rabbinical court
granting a Jewish divorce.
Although Halivni is
willing to consider the
idea of female rabbis, he
feels that the halakhic
prohibitions against
women cantors are more
absolute. He explained

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that anyone not obligated
to' fulfill positive time-
bound mitzvot cannot
serve as the "shaliakh
tzibur," the representa-
tive of the community
leading in prayer and
reading from the Torah
scrolls.
On the other hand, a
number of scholars are con-
vinced that these obstacles
can be overcome. For exam-
ple, Rabbi David Silverman
of the JTS suggested that
women be ordained and that
subsequent provisions be
made regarding the difficult
issue of "edut" (witnessing).
Furthermore, Judith
Hauptman, instructor in
Talmud at the JTS, noted
that it "was possible to have
two other witnesses at wed-
dings in addition to the
woman rabbi. !Rabbi' means
teacher, that the person has
attained a certain level of
education."
In addition to consulting
scholarly opinion, the
Commission has sampled
the views of members of
Conservative congregations
who will be intensely af-
fected by this decision. The
results of a survey, of 14
selected congregations
throughout North America
conducted by Yankelovich,
Skelly and White, a highly
respected public opinion re-
search firm, have been com-
puterized for the commis-
sion's review.
Also, public forums have
been held in Los Angeles,
Vancouver, Minneapolis,
Chicago, Washington, D.C.,
New York and Toronto.
number of those
arguing in favor of the
ordination of women
spoke from a sociological
standpoint. Some as-
serted that the time re-
quired for housekeeping
and child rearing has
been dramatically re-
duced, leaving women
freer to observe the posit-
ive, time-bound mitzvot
from which they had
previously been excused,
and to play a more prom-
inent role in communal
religious life.
Others urged the com-
mission members to ac-
knowledge the impact
which the women's libera-
tion movement has had
upon all aspects of Ameri-
can society. Above all, they
said, feminist demands
have compelled people to
recognize that, in both the
religious and secular
spheres, it is necessary to
grant to all people the
opportunity to realize their
potentials to the full.
Dr. Sarah Lieberman, a
religious school principal in
Framingham, Mass and the
wife of a Conservative
rabbi, - cited historical pre-
cedent in support of her
argument. Her own re-
search, she said, has re-
vealed that, in the past,
women often occupied
prominent positions within
the Jewish community, as
the spirit and the needs of
the time dictated.
For example, they served
as professional mourners
and dirge reciters long be-

fore the establishment of
the modern rabbinate. "The
rabbis of today," she de-
clared, "have taken away
from women what was
rightfully theirs by tradi-
tion."
Many pleas were of a
more personal ; emotional
nature. Some speakers
suggested that women could
not only perform rabbinic
functions as well as men,
but would contribute a
uniquely feminine perspec-
tive, particularly a
heightened sensitivity, to
the rabbinic role.
Other women described
the alienation they had felt
from a Judaism that
excluded them, as well as
their elation upon having
an aliya or leading services
for the first time.
Somewhat surpris-
ingly, the presentations
of those speakers who
opposed the ordination
of women were emotion-
ally charged as well. Sev-
eral plainly stated that
they were, as yet,
psychologically unpre-
pared to see a woman in
the pulpit and to entrust.

her with their confi-
dences and other rab-
binic functions.
Others contended that
they were acting in the best
interest of the women them-
selves for, as they were
quick to point out, the
female graduates of Reform
and Reconstructionist rab-
binical seminaries have not
been well accepted by the
public and have had diffi-
culty finding pulpits.
Above all, these speakers
stressed their heartfelt con-
cern for the future of the
Conservative movement.
They reiterated that main-
taining a balance between
tradition and change has
always been a hallmark of
Conservatism, and warned
against jumping on the con-
temporary bandwagon
without giving the ordina-
tion question long and seri-
ous thought.
Moreover, as Rabbi
Wayne Allen of Staten Is-
land New York argued,
such a radical departure
would undermine the
authority of the JTS as well
as that of its rabbinical
school graduates.

-

4

4

-

Murdered Terrorist Leader
Engineered Munich Massacre

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The
bomb death in Beirut Mon-
day of Ali Hassan Salameh,
the notorious "Abu Hassan"
who engineered the 1972
Munich Olympics mas-
sacre, was greeted with
grim satisfaction in Israel.
The terrorist leader, a
member of the top echelon of
El Fatah and a close per-
sonal associate of Palestine
Liberation Organization
chief Yasir Arafat, left a
trail of murder and
bloodshed in his wake.. Is-
•raeli security sources re-
called that Salameh, 38, in-
ALI SALAMEH
herited a legacy of violence.
His father, Hassan Arab world generally. This
Salameh, led Arab maraud- group was behind the assas-
ers during the 1936-38 dis- sinations of numerous Arab
turbances in Palestine. He terrorist and political fig-
fled to Germany and offered ures in European capitals.
Salameh was indirectly
his , services to the Nazis
during World War II. He involved in the ill-fated
was dropped by parachute Liel-Hammer Affair in
near Jericho in 1944 to or- Norway several years ago
ga.nize an Arab uprising be- when Israeli undercover
hind Allied lines. He failed agents, assigned to elimi-
in that mission and was kil- nate him, mistakenly killed ,
led four years later during a Moroccan, Ahmed
Israel's war for indepen- Boushiki. They were ar-
rested by the Norwegian
dence.
The younger Salameh authorities and sentenced
was an early member of to prison terms.
Salameh met a violent
El Fatah, the terrorist
arm of the PLO, and rose death. According to reports
rapidly in its ranks. He from Beirut, he and four
was one of the "brains" aides were killed when a
behind the murderous remote-controlled bomb
"Black September" gang exploded near their car in
that carried our numer- that city. Salameh was
ous assassinations, ter- married to the 1972 Miss
rorist attacks on civilians Universe, Georgina Rizk.
and aerial hijackings,
culminating in the mas-
sacre of 11 Israeli
athletes at the Munich
BEER,SHEBA — Ben-
Olympic Games in Sep-
Gurion University of the
tember 1972.
He headed the so-called Negev has dedicated the
first medical library build-
"Force 17," Arafat's per-
ing in the Negev, at Soroka
sonal bodyguard which was
a unit of the "Black Sep- Medical Center.
The library will house
tember" assigned the task of
16,000 books and 600 pro-
eliminating Arafat's oppo-
nents in El Fatah and the fessional journals.



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4

4

Medical Library
Is Completed

41

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