some traditions might not be worth preserving...

by Leah Bieler

Last week, Rabbi Jeremy Fine wrote an article opining about the good old days, when Conservative Jews felt they needed to pander to the non egalitarian crowd. Some friends and I feel differently. We wrote about it in the Jewish Journal.


Less than half a century ago, the vast majority of Conservative congregations in the US were non-egalitarian. There were no rabbis who were women. Lots of synagogues refused to allow a woman even to step onto the bimah. Baby girls got a cursory naming at which they were rarely present, while boys were celebrated with the entire community. What a difference 40 years makes.

In a recent piece in the Jewish Journal, Rabbi Jeremy Fine laments the loss of the (non-egalitarian) Stein minyan at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). He claims that this is a sign that the Conservative movement has lost its way. That by getting rid of this prayer space the movement is saying to people who otherwise are philosophically aligned with Conservative Judaism that there is no place for them at JTS. That we will lose them to Modern Orthodoxy.

Our response is this. Change is hard. As feminists we are well aware of the massive changes for which we have worked and of which we are the beneficiaries. As religious feminists it is our nature to be skeptical before reacting to every shift in the wind. But the idea that women are the social and intellectual and LEGAL equals of men is here to stay.


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