5/09/2011

The Economics of the Maharat

Via TaxProfBlog (HT: @MAHelfand, @menachembutler)

Orthodox Jewish Women and the Parsonage Exemption

Jacob Lewin (J.D. 2011, Cardoozo) has published Note, Orthodox Jewish Women and Eligibility for the Parsonage Exemption, 17 Cardozo J.L. & Gender 139 (2010). Here is the part of the Introduction:
This Note posits that unordained Orthodox Jewish women can only take parsonage when they have an official licensing, which can be satisfied with a theological degree. Part I presents a background of the parsonage exemption as well as the historical debate as to its constitutionality. Part II discusses the scope of the parsonage exemption and the case law that determine eligibility. Part III first introduces Broyde’s approach to the issue of unordained Orthodox Jewish women’s entitlement to parsonage and then presents an evaluation and ultimately a suggestion as to how unordained women can be eligible. This Note ultimately concludes that unordained women can be entitled to the parsonage exemption and that lacking ordination does not bar eligibility when a woman has an official certification to her character as a spiritual leader.
I've been arguing for over 5 years that the matter of somehow accrediting Orthodox women who serve in a pastoral role is one of basic yashrut. The question of whether such a woman should be called rabbi, rabbah, maharat, tanna'it, or anything else is completely secondary. And as has always been the case, halakha is more responsive to economic pressures than it is to ideological movements.
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