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by Leah Bieler

Should Orthodox women be rabbis? No one is asking ME that question. They already know my answer. But I have another, more complicated question. Where'd they get this idea, anyway? And why is it so difficult for them to tell the real story?

In today's Forward, I discuss what it's like watching from the other side.


I’ll begin by saying this. I’m really excited at the idea that Modern Orthodox women leaders, some of them friends of mine, are getting support pouring in from all corners of the Jewish world. Well, maybe not all, but many. This includes the CCAR, the umbrella organization for Reform rabbis. It is truly inspiring.

So why do I feel so frustrated?

One of my earliest memories is of my mother coming home from a meeting when our Conservative synagogue was debating whether to allow women to open the Torah ark. After hearing all the halachic arguments in favor of women taking on this supposedly controversial practice, a male congregant responded, and I may be paraphrasing here, “I don’t know anything about halacha, but seeing a woman on the bimah makes me physically sick.”

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