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May 19, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-19

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

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New York feminist,

generally considered
a leader in the strug-
gle for equality for women in
the American Orthodox com-
munity, is convinced that or-
dination of women as Or-
thodox rabbis is inevitable.
"I think it will happen
within the next two decades,
perhaps during my lifetime,"
Blu Greenberg, of New York's
Riverdale section, said in an
interview with the Jewish
Telegraphic Agency.
Greenberg lectures widely
on the status of women in the
Orthodox community and
participates with women from
other denominations in
discussions about the role of
women in Judaism. She is the
editor of the book, On Women
and Judaism.
"Most likely it will happen
in stages," she said,
elaborating on her prediction.
"The first being ordination,
followed by women with the
title 'rabbi' serving as
teachers and rebbes in
yeshivot, women as `poskim ,
(religious arbiters), or women
serving as rabbis of women
prayer groups.
"The last phase of accep-
tance will be of acceptance as
congregational rabbis, and
that will take a long time,
but, eventually, I think that,
too, will fall into place?'
Greenberg is the wife of
Rabbi Irving Greenberg,
whose long battle for unity
among the Jewish religious
denominations led to the
creation of CLAL, the
Manhattan-based National
Jewish Center for Learning
and Leadership.
In discussing existing bar-
riers to ordination of women
as Orthodox rabbis, she said
three positive forces are
operating to make her predic-
tion come true.
These are the "explosion" of
learning of sacred texts by Or-
thodox women; the "powerful
models" of woman rabbis in
the liberal denominations;
and the growing process of
"redefinition within the Or-
thodox Jewish community of
women's roles on communal
life?'
During the past two
decades, Greenberg said, Or-
thodox women have been stu-
dying Talmud intensively.
There are now institutes for
study of sacred lore by
women. Girls now study
Talmud in yeshivot, just as

Blu Greenberg:
Sees slow change.

boys do, whether or not the
classes are separated.
Greenberg quoted one
young Orthodox woman she
had met, a student, scholar
and young mother, who told
her, "I am going to spend the
next 10 years quietly learn-
ing, so that when the com-
munity is ready for me, I will
be ready for the community?'
Greenberg estimated that
between the United States
and Israel, at least 50 women

"The last phase of
acceptance will be
of acceptance as
congregational
rabbis, and that
will take a long
time."

are becoming scholars of
Jewish law, and that she per-
sonally knows "perhaps a
dozen such women."
Discussing arguments of
the male-dominated Or-
thodox community against or-
dination of women,
Greenberg pointed out that
ordination is not part of the
tradition. She noted that
among the basic re-
quirements for holding a
pulpit are that the rabbinical
candidate must be personally
observant, and meet the
highest standards of piety,
standards which Orthodox
women obviously could meet.
But the candidate must also
be observant of the halachic
standards of the community
the candidate will serve.
These standards, Greenberg
conceded, do not at present in-
clude acceptance of the or-
dination of women.
She also wondered how how
can a woman be a rabbi if she
cannot be a member of a mi-
nyan and whether a woman's

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