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March 06, 1987 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-03-06

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

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Friday, March 6, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

OP-ED

111•11•11111

Women Cantors

Continued from Page 7

only to a woman in this matter
and impossible for a male.
Further, this discussion is
tremendously divisive. Not
only does it deepen the rift be-
tween traditionalists and lib-
erals in our movement, it also
creates two classes of Jewish
women. If the seminary's ques-
tionable position were taken
seriously, the only women who
could lead services would be
those who had obligated them-
selves to fulfill all time-bound
mitzvot, including tallit, tefil-
lin and prayer in a minyan
three times a day. Will those
women who do not want these
oaths and obligations added to
their already manifold respon-
sibilities be "lesser women"
than those, who, lightly or in
earnest, accept them? This
latest "egalitarian" step of the
JTS, in attempting to make the
roles of men and women identi-
cal, has created inequity where
none existed before.
What is this egalitarianism
that has become the single
religious passion of our Conser-
vative movement? According
to the noted Jewish educator
Dr. Miriam Klein Shapiro, "It
is based on the assumption
that women can only be equal
to men when they do identical
things. That, to my mind, is
true male chauvinism."
In its headlong plunge into
egalitarianism, the seminary
has not begun to fathom the
consequences of its actions. Is
it sad to realize that the once
great and halachically-
oriented Conservative move-
ment now follows the lead of
the reconstructionist and Re-
form movements. Both move-
ments, which are not bound by
Jewish law, took the step of or-
daining women as rabbis and

cantors years ago. Both, moti-
vated by the same secular
egalitarian force which now
animates the seminary, took
the next reasonable step, the
acceptance of patrilineal des-
cent. Though it may be denied
today, that step is now inevita-
ble in the Conservative move-
ment.
There are thousands of Con-
servative Jews who still are
passionately committed to
Halachah and tradition, as
well as the historical approach
to Judaism which char-
acterizes our classical conser-
vative movement. Now is not
the time to throw our hands up
in dismay. It is a time to join
hands with likeminded Jews
throughout the Jewish com-
munity and support activities
which add to Jewish life,
rather than divide us.
The needs expressed by
modern committed Jewish
women must be addressed.
There is room within Jewish
law on feminist issues without
doing damage to our tradition.
Indeed, the Panel of Halachic
Inquiry of the Union for Tradi-
tional Conservative Judaism
has recently issued its first
volume of responsa, which
though rejected by some of our
Orthodox colleagues, are a hal-
lachic way for women to ex-
press their need for public wor-
ship.
- There are many halachic an-
swers to difficult issues today.
Some of these allow us to func-
tion according to our secular
values, and some do not. But
before we begin tampering
with tradition, let us all look
inward carefully and make
sure that what we are asking of
the tradition is a result of our
commitment to living it.

Vandalism Called Racist

Washington (JTA) — The
lawyer for a suburban
Washington synagogue that
had been desecrated argued
before the United States
Supreme Court last week that
while Jews can not be con-
sidered a race, the vandalism
was a racist act.
Patricia Brannan, a Wash-
ington lawyer, said that the
eight men who sprayed swas-
tikas and anti-Semitic
slogans on the Shaare 'Mk
Congregation synagogue in
Silver Spring, Maryland,
Nov.1, 1982, acted because
they considered Jews as
non-whites.
Deborah Garren, a Balti-
more lawyer representing one
of the vandals, however,
claimed that while the act
was one of religious discrimi-
nation it was not racist as
defined by the civil rights
laws adopted in 1866.
Shaare Thfila, a Conser-
vative congregation, was
defaced with swastikas and

other Nazi symbols and such
slogans as "Death to the
Jude" and "In-Take a Shower
Jew."
Eight persons were later ar-
rested for the suit and two of
them were convicted of dam-
aging the synagogue.The
synagogue filed a suit in
federal court against all eight
charging that the congrega-
tion's civil rights had been
violated.
The suit seeks $3,000 to
cover the cost of repainting
the synagogue's walls with
any other money awarded
going to the Montgomery
County Human Relations
Commission. The synagogue
is in Montgomery County
which borders Washington.
However, the Fourth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in
Richmond, Virginia, rejected
the suit in a 2-1 decision
which said Jews could not use
the civil rights law for protec-
tion as they were not a
separate non-white race.

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