Culture, Identity, Israel, Justice, Politics, Religion, Sex & Gender

Judaism, sexist?

According to a study by the Israeli Masorti movement,…well, maybe you should see for yourself:

According to survey conducted by Masorti Movement in Israel, 87% of public support gender equality, but only 24% of seculars would attend synagogue more often if partitions separating men and women were removed…
Eighty-seven percent of the public believe that nominal gender equality is entirely justified, and 54% claim that Jewish tradition discriminates against women….39% are of the opinion that discrimination doesn’t exist, and another 4% claim that Judaism holds women above men.
Meanwhile, 24% of seculars and 18% of ‘traditional’ Israelis said that eliminating the gender barrier in places of worship would in fact make them more likely to attend prayer services.

OK: Not startling: gender inequality exists; startling: gender inequality doesn’t exist; not startling: most Israelis support gender equality, also not startling: only in theory. startling: the Masorti movement bothered with this study at all. What is it supposed to tell us, exactly?
I suppose the idea is to show that there’s a whole group of people out there for whom Masorti would be a godsend – and IMO, Masorti is making great strides among the Israeli and immigrant populations it Israel, but were they thinking that this would get the government to take them more seriously, or send money, or even help them fight off the more egregious exclusions of the hegemony in Israel?
Well, all the same, good luck!

17 thoughts on “Judaism, sexist?

  1. The Masorti study shows that Israelis of most stripes are ready for their product. Yet they have not been able to sell it as expected.
    Is this due to too little funding? Yes. The Israeli government provides almost nothing. The North American community talks of support but provides very little money.
    They also have a Rabbinical School (Schechter) that rejects Gays for ordination and even rejects those who support a Dorph/Tucker/Gillman apprach to Jewish law.
    The head of Schechter opposes artificial insemination for single women with “no prospects of marriage”.
    Finally, way too many Israelis who support egalitarianism in life feel that the Orthodox Judaism that they reject is, somehow, the true Judaism. So they marry via the dreaded Chief Rabbinate and allow family to be buried without dignity.

  2. but only 24% of seculars would attend synagogue more often if partitions separating men and women were removed
    “Only” 24%? I’m surprised that such a high percentage of secular Israelis would potentially attend synagogue at all. This result doesn’t mean that the other 76% are sexist; just that they have unrelated reasons for not going to synagogue.
    In the meantime, is the Masorti movement itself fully egalitarian yet?

  3. this is a manifestation of the “lu hayyiti dati, hayyiti ortodoxi” phenomenon.
    the majority of israelis reject religion as a controlling influence in their lives, but they have a very narrow view of what that entails.

  4. also, to A Reb Student in Israel:
    not o be a niggler, but it’s “dorff,” nor “dorph.”
    and i do not think what you said is correct.
    “those who support a Dorph/Tucker/Gillman apprach to Jewish law?”
    i think what you mean to say was “those who support dorff and tucker’s view on this subject (to admit gay students to rabbinical school). rabbi dorff is one of the leading halakhic minds of the conservative academic world. rabbi tucker has been a prominent member of the CJLS for years and years.
    additionally, rabbi gillman has no developed position on halakhah. he is really not a legal philosopher, and i say that after being his student, with the greatest respect.

  5. 1. The Masorti movement is, by and large, fully egalitarian. But it is made up of aging americans, mostly. It does not have a proper school system for its children, and it does not have a proper supplementary education program for them either. So either they’re funny chilonim, or just less-observant datiim.
    2.The gay issue at schechter does not really have any meaning. A rabbinical school with four students doesn’t get to have a moral voice on issues.
    3. Anat Ramon was attacked on jewschool several times, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything, but she’s not the issue either.
    4. The issue is the movement itself, which just doesn’t know how to be serious about things: not about social issues (that’s “politics”, and they don’t like that), not about halakha (they pasken to the right and practice to the left), and not about shul (C. shuls in Israel aren’t fun. Sorry.).

  6. One thing that people need to realize is that the rank and file may have different perceptions of “egalitarianism” than the activists have. In fact I believe that one problem progressive-left activists have in general is that they have a strong disconnect from the real interests of the masses, who they deride as being “bourgeois” when the masses aren’t 100% sympathetic to the activists’ ideological positions. Most people don’t arrive at their views of life via ideology, they pick and choose what makes them feel good.
    As an example here, I point to my wife, “Ms. Apikoris,” who is quite happy to be an active member in our Conservative shul. She has no problem ideologically with all of the ritual egalitarian measures, and she considers herself a feminist. BUT… she also has no problems with gender-segregated seating and is happy to visit Orthodox shuls, even the ones with offensively high mechitzot. In fact, she has told me that she even finds gender segregated seating (if not the high mechitzot) to enhance the spirituality of the service. (This may reflect her experiences as a child when her parents took her to Orthodox synagogues on the few occasions that they went to synagogue.) If pressed, I suspect she would prefer the setup they have at the Orthodox shul in Berkeley California, where the mechitza is very insubstantial so women can particpate in the service. Sure women there can’t have a role of ritual leadership, but then, neither of us are particularly interested in being machers. Actually both of us find offensive people with excessive ambitions to leadership positions. So when activists start whining about the need for “diversity” for its own sake in high-level positions, we (like a lot of the rank-and-file) tend to tune it out.
    As for Israeli Masorti, They certainly have different problems from the Americans. There seems to be a large segment of the secular Israeli public that can’t conceive of the concept of non-Orthodox religious Judaism. They’d rather find a guru than consider Reform or Conservative. While that might help the Orthodox over there in the short term, it seems a hell of a way to run a Jewish State. They’re basically turning large numbers of the Jews against Judaism in any form. I don’t think there’s much that the Masorti (or the Israeli Reform) can do about it, however, except to use their communities as an example that non-Orthodox Judaism is possible. But to do that, they need to focus on having functioning, practicing communities that are based on religious activities and not on endless ideological debate that splinters the communities in factions, the same old arguments over and over gain, with nobody changing their minds. And of some of those communities don’t operate 100% according to the activists’ ideologies, that’s probably a good thing.

  7. >>>The head of Schechter opposes artificial insemination for single women with “no prospects of marriage.”
    Why is this a problem? Given the serious nature of world overpopulation and dwindling resources, what reason to people feel thay have some sort of entitlement to reproduce. Especially when it involves relatively prosperous first-worlders who use a disproportionate share of the world’s resources. Besides, my experience as a parent leads me to believe that single parenthood should be as strongly discouraged as possible. People should ind a partner before they start making children. For the child’s sake as wel as for the sake of the rest of us.

  8. Lots of perfectly suitable parents don’t find suitable partners, and women especially who have a limited time. Though I don’t find the argument that we Jews have to make up for the six million viable, it is an imperative for us to reproduce ourselves if we want a future for the Jewish people.
    I agree that two or more parents is a better way to raise children – better for the children and better for the parents, but we don’t stop single people from having children. From a narrow point of view, tradition would find getting inseminated preferable to “find some guy who just wants to get laid and have unprotected sex” as a method of becoming a mother.

  9. They’re basically turning large numbers of the Jews against Judaism in any form.
    Wrong – the Jewish state does not like the liberal Jewish movements since Jewish nationalism is (was?) an alternative to Jewish religion. The only reason they tolerate some Orthodox and like others is b/c the Orhtodox espouse an extremist and violent version of said nationalism.

  10. Invisible Hand wrote:“those who support a Dorph/Tucker/Gillman approach to Jewish law?”
    i think what you mean to say was “those who support dorff and tucker’s view on this subject (to admit gay students to rabbinical school).
    No, I said what I meant to say. The dean said that the Dorph and Tucker appreach to Jewish law is not halachic and has no place in a serious halachic discussion. Those who think as they do would do well to look to study at an institution of one of the other liberal movements.
    additionally, rabbi gillman has no developed position on halakhah. he is really not a legal philosopher, and i say that after being his student, with the greatest respect.
    I beg to differ. He has addressed the issue of Philosophy of Halacha Check out his speech last year to the United Synagogue leadership (I think it was there and his articlein Conservative Judaism Magazine where he spoke of the Conservative Movement’s Halacha as being a combination of Halacha and Agada. He essentially said that our way is an “enlightened traditionalism.” Decisions are halachicly informed but not strictly by the book.
    As to the Golinkin Psak against artificial insemination for a woman in her late thirties,feeling her biological time clock running out, and without prospectsfor marriage – he suggest “better spend the money on a good shadchan rather than fertility treatments”.
    This is beyond insulting to the woman who asked the question. There can be many reasons she is single (has not yet found the right man, lesbian, maybe she was sexually molested and has trauma preventing a healthy relationship, coming out of a bad or abusive relationship,etc). But one hardly needs a rabbi to suggest a shadhan when she wants to have a baby.
    And if more babies are not good for the planet (and I am pro-Jewish birth)why limit the criticism to single mothers? Why not educate all Jewish couples to save the world by not breeding?

  11. Reb student: it really is “Dorff;” trust me.
    And you’re certainly correct about how insulting the GOlinkin psak is – but, you have to take Golinkin with a grain of salt: He also, at one time (I don’t know if he still does) advised his students against davenning at the egalitarian masorti shuls in Israel – this despite the fact that there were female rabbinical students there at the time. I always wondered what he thought he was training them for. And that’s the least of it….

  12. As I recall, Rabbis Dorff and Tucker had substantially different approaches to Halacha, at least in regards to their tshuvot on homosexuality.
    (I think Dorff et al advocated removing the rabbinic aspects of prohibitions on gay sex, but leaving the biblical; Tucker questioned the biblical as well)
    The only common denominator was that they both were in favor of admitting gay rabbinical and cantorial students.

  13. Yes, Dorff and Tucker have different approaches to halacha. What they have in common is that a person with either approach can not study to become a Conservative rabbi in Israel.
    Only those of us who come for a year of study from the States may do so. Rabbis David Golinkin and Anat Ramon will not allow it.
    It is not only the fact that they (Tucker and Dorff) both support Gay ordination (albeit for different reasoning) but that their approaches are more appropriate, in the Golikin/Ramon world view, to other liberal movements.
    I think that Golinkin is OK with egal shuls. But how does one define egalitarian? What if all things are equal but woman (bat Kohen) may not duchen?
    I am told that he still does not sign the ordination certificates of Schechter rabbinical graduates because he does not want them to sit on a Beit Din (and I think that in Israel the Conservative Movement includes women on the Beit Din).

  14. What if all things are equal but woman (bat Kohen) may not duchen?
    Birkat kohanim is unegalitarian regardless of whether women may participate. And that’s true even if we’re talking only about gender egalitarianism (and leaving aside the idea of hereditary tribes); the only difference is whether the gender discrimination is taking place in this generation or the previous generation.

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