2/04/2006

You See, You Need a Man...

[UPDATE: Shaalvim has taken the quoted line off of their site. I cut and paste that quote directly from the Shaalvim website. It seems that someone at Shaalvim reads my blog (or mowoman, or bloghd, both of whom linked to this post). I consider this to be a Pyrrhic victory.]


I don't know any of the people involved in this, but I find it to be bizarre and downright disturbing. It seems that Shaalvim for Women will be replacing their founder and menahelet because, well, she's not a Rabbi. Here's the line:

The yeshiva has decided to appoint a Rav as the Menahel of Sha’alvim for Women.
I've had a series of posts on semikhah sitting in my gut for a while, and this might provide the impetus to get it out there.

Let me begin by stating for the record that there's a real problem that there's no way to recognize a learned Orthodox woman. Before you start with the apologetics, let me state that as a recognized Rabbi, everything I pay in rent and utilities, a substantial chunk of my salary, is taxed at a much lower rate than the rest of my salary. I am eligible for a higher salary because a rabbinical degree is recognized as an advanced degree, usually on the level of a Master's. There are also a number of positions, not just rabbinical positions, open to ordained rabbis. A qualified Orthodox woman gets none of these benefits, even if her job description and education is identical to that of another rabbi, because there's no such thing as semikha for Orthodox women. The truly funny thing is that R and C women get all of these benefits, and it's becoming increasingly easy for Orthodox men to get semikha (see here). And here there's actually a pressing need for some way to recognize the achievements of Orthodox women so that they can get the benefits that they would accrue if they were a different gender or denomination, and we are moving in the opposite direction.

I should note that this has nothing to do with feminism, or equality, or even women getting Orthodox semikha. It's not about granting women a certain 'status', but about finding a way to articulate their qualifications to fill certain jobs and accrue certain benefits that they are fully qualified for and entitled to. Yashrus isn't feminism, is it?
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