This guest poster is a frum woman in a major Jewish community. She would prefer not to have her background become public knowledge so she has chosen to post the following anonymously. It is a very interesting perspective from someone who went from being a reform female rabbinical student to a Baalas Teshuva in a major New York area frum community. Her persepctive on the issue is quite informative.
The View From Behind the Mechitzah.
Sometimes we make decisions consciously, and sometimes they seem to happen. I made a decision to become a women Rabbi, and here I am many years later, a simple Jewish orthodox women sitting behind the mechitzah.
I spent a year at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem studying to become a reform Rabbi, but when I came back I became so disillusioned with the reform movement that I decided to try something else. I did other degrees in Jewish education, but I finally decided that I did not want to be a big shot in the reform or conservative movement, I wanted to be a simple frum Jew.
What led me to this decision? Lots of things, but mainly I was just looking to do, say and believe the same thing.
My fist Shabbos back in America, the Rabbi of my home synagogue gave a long sermon about how inspiring it is for him to do a triple bar mitzvah every week, it showed how many young people are being educated as Jews. As soon as I spoke to him privately he told me how sick he was of the bar mitzvah mill.
I was assigned to teach the history of Reform Judaism in a Hebrew School . While conducting a review, I asked the students to tell me in their own words why the reform movement was started. A student raised his hand and said. “people were looking for an easier way out” Unsure of how to handle it, I consulted the Rabbi of the synagogue. He said to me, “your student is right. isn’t he?”
When the same school served cookies with lard for snack, I complained to the principle, pointing out that the reform movement believes that each person should pick what is meaningful for them, and she said, “no one here keeps kosher so what difference does it make.?”
Slowly I started looking for something else. I tried conservative, reconstructionist, and chavurah synagogues and I felt like there was still too much inconsistency. So finally I took the plunge and tried out an orthodox synagogue.
The first time I sat behind the mechitzah felt really weird. Then suddenly I realized that my ability to really pray was so much better. I continued to look for people who do what they say, and believe what they do. Eventually I found myself davening in a yeshivah with my daughters on one side and my sons and husband on the other side.
I gave up a lot to get here. Instead of being a big shot on the pulpit, now I am just another person behind the mechitzah, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. My graduate degrees are wothless. I made a choice to put closeness to Hashem, and doing the Mitzvot before personal glory.
So when I read about an orthodox Rabbi who is trying to ordain a women Rabbi, it really upsets me. Not out of jelousy, but out of fear. Doesn’t he realize how shallow and meaningless his action is. Doesn’t he realize what he is risking doing to the structure of Judaism.
A women does not need to be a Rabbi to be fulfilled, I know, been there done that. A women’s place is behind the mechitzah, that is where the real growth happens.