Reform Jewish Women: Stepping Outside Their Spheres

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With the institution of religion being so steeped in patriarchal ideals throughout history, Reform Judaism has proven to be a beacon of acceptance for Jewish women looking to live fulfilling lives in both the private and public spheres. Within North America, Women of Reform Judaism has lead women to to become active citizens and stand up for worthy causes. As well, the introduction of female congregational leadership has presented a fresh opportunity for spiritual enrichment. In Israel, which is governed by traditionalism, Reform Jewish people worldwide are in support of equality at the Western Wall- supporting an organization called Women of The Wall. Even though religion is on a decline within Western society, Reform Judaism has grown to…show more content…
The word Rabbi literally means teacher. In the past, for thousands of years, rabbis were Jewish men who followed and understood the mitzvot in the Torah, were able to resolve halachic disputes, as well as lead the community.7 From the start, Reform Jewish tradition allowed men and women to pray together, but women were not permitted to be rabbis until quite recently.8 In 1922, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) discussed the possibility of a greater female presence in congregational leadership. They voted against allowing women to become rabbis for multiple reasons: Firstly, they suggested that it would be detrimental to family life, because it would require women to leave the private sphere, and not be able to successfully raise a family while balancing rabbinical responsibilities. At the time, that was a very valid argument. In the patriarchal society, women were just beginning to push their boundaries and become active outside of the home. The roles of women changed rapidly and issues such as women’s suffrage became incredibly important. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the feminist movement really took flight, and women began to demand change.9 Why should this demand for change be limited to secular life? Something that Reform Judaism embraces is the fact that it changes and adapts to the times. Their outdated argument was proven invalid as women began balancing their family lives with full time jobs and other

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