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December 04, 1992 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-12-04

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

Ok. Nobody said a bank had to

remember my name.

Conservative Group
Ordains Women

But you'd think after 10 years of

doing business with them...

Of course, with so much

merging and changing,

it's amazing they remember

their name.

Maybe you should switch to a bank
that really wants to be your bank.

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Find It All In
The Jewish News
Classifieds
Call 354-5959

Jerusalem (JTA) — The
Masorti Movement, the
Israeli branch of Conser-
vative Judaism, has decided
to ordain women as rabbis.
In taking this far-reaching
decision, the Israeli move-
ment and its Seminary for
Judaic Studies in Jerusalem
is following in the footsteps
of the Jewish Theological
Seminary of America, which
resolved to ordain women in
1983.
Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo
Goren, a former Chief Rabbi
of Israel, reacted contemp-
tuously by suggesting that
the Masorti movement was
"taking its lead from the
Anglican Church."
That church recently took
a controversial and much-
publicized decision to ad-
mit women into its clergy.
Rabbi Goren said the Masor-
ti decision meant the move-
ment was "distancing itself
still more from the Torah,
the Talmud and Jewish Or-
thodoxy."
The Israeli movement's
decision will be formalized
December 14, at a meeting of
the Jerusalem seminary's
board of trustees.
Meanwhile, however, the
first would-be woman rab-
binical graduate, French-
born Valerie Stessin, has
been admitted to the fourth-
year rabbinical class, and is
scheduled to be ordained
with her male classmates at
the end of the current
academic year.
Ms. Stessin, 28, believes
the decision to admit women
would strengthen the Israeli
movement, "since people
will see that we are doing
what we believe in."
The U.S. decision led to a
defection of several leading
faculty-members from JTS,
among them talmudic schol-
ar David Weiss Halivni.
This group and other rabbis
have organized a Union for
Traditional Judaism, which
has been at odds with the
mainstream Conservative
Rabbinical Assembly ever
since, and has recently laun-
ched its own rival theologi-
cal seminary.
But well-placed sources at
the top of the Masorti
movement told JTA that no
such split is likely here.
They said that even rabbis
uncomfortable with the or-
dination of women would not
move to the UTJ, because on
the whole, the Masorti
movement in Israel is more

traditional than American
Conservative Judaism when
it comes to Halachah, or
Jewish law.
This leaning was
highlighted by the recent
decision of the Masorti
movement not to adopt the
American position permit-
ting worshippers to drive to
synagogue on the Sabbath.
Ms. Stessin herself first
came to religious observance
through the Orthodox Bnei
Akiva youth movement in
France. As a student at the
Hebrew University, she
says, she began feeling
dissatisfied with standard
Orthodox attitudes.
She originally transferred
to the Seminary to take a se-
cond degree in Jewish
Thought. "You can do a
master's in Jewish thought
at (Hebrew) University
without ever having to pick
up the Bible," she says wry-
ly.
Having decided to go for
the rabbinate, Valerie has
begun doing practical work
at a Conservative congrega-

The Israeli
movement's
decision will be
formalized
December 14.

tion in Beersheba, headed by
American-ordained, Israeli-
born Gila Dror.
In general, she believes in
"an open sort of Judaism,"
she says. "The decision to
ordain women represents
the essential message of our
movement: to preserve and
enhance the tradition, while
at the same time developing
it in accordance with the
spirit of the times."
Valerie says the decision
came after years of hesita-
tion, primarily occasioned by
doubts about how the Israeli
public, both religious and
secular, would react. She is
pleased, she says, that the
community's leaders made
up their minds "to do this
courageous thing."
When the Jerusalem
seminary board meets for its
formal decision, it will have
before it a number of
halachic responsa, or legal
rulings, prepared by mem-
bers of the movement's
Halacha committee.
While five of the seven
rabbis asked to express their

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