Religion, Sex & Gender

Episcopalians Elect First Woman Head

Mazal tov! In a ground-breaking move, the Episcopal Church (i.e., the American branch of the Anglican communion) has just elected its first female head, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The reporting on her election is fascinating, with obvious parallels to issues of women in Judaism, the appointment of a new Chancellor for JTS, and the issues of marriage equality and gay rights that are rocking the Conservative Movement. (Much to her critics’ dismay, Bishop Jefferts Schori is a proponent of same-sex unions and supported the election of the Episcopal Church’s first gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson.)
In another interesting parallel to the Conservative Movement, which touts its “big tent” approach to Jewish life, three Episcopalian dioceses in the United States, and the Church of England, refuse to accept the ordination of women. Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. has said that the election of a woman primate, and one who supports same sex unions at that, is an affort to the Episcopal Church and to Episcopalians/Anglicans everywhere. And according to the New York Times, Rev. H. W. Herrmann, the head of an Episcopal church in one of the dioceses that do not accept female priests, has stated that Bishop Jefferts Schori would not be welcome in that diocese. The Reverend shared a choice analogy with the Times:

“Just like we can’t use grape juice and saltines for Communion, because it isn’t the right matter, we do not believe that the right matter is being offered here,” Mr. Herrmann said in an interview on Sunday.

Ah yes. A deeply intellectual comparison of women to grape juice and saltines. Women might look like the real thing and smell like the real thing, but they’re just not the real thing. This particular analogy is reminiscent of what a prominent Conservative rabbi is reported to have said about counting women in a minyan: “It’s not immoral not to turn on a light bulb on Shabbat, so why would it be immoral not to count women in a miyan?”
Check out the full story here, here, and here.