Jan 21, 2014

Women to put on tefillin and ask to take semicha exams

The issue of womens equality is in the news.. in some unexpected places..

1. A couple of girls in a Modern Orthodox all-girls high school have requested permission to don tefillin during davening. And they have been granted permission to do so. SAR High School in Riverdale, New York is the first MO high school to allow this.

The principal allowed it recognizing that it is a halachically permissible thing to do, though communally complicated.

The principal of Shalhevet, on the other hand, seemingly a very similar school, has not allowed girls to don tefillin.  He says while halachically it might be permissible, it is not wise to allow it, in order to maintain the diversity of the school.
source: Shalhevet Boiling Point

2. A group of women have appealed to Chief Rabbi Dovid Lau to allow them to take the Rabbanut semicha exams.

They claim they are not demanding to be rabbis, though it only makes sense to say that that would be the next stage, the next demand (maybe by the same women, maybe by others), but are only asking to be allowed to take the exams, to test their knowledge.

They say not allowing them to take the exams is discriminatory. Just as many men take the exams but do not go on to take jobs as rabbis, so too they are only asking to take the exams but not be deemed as rabbis. The difference, not pointed out, is that after passing the exams, even if those men do not take jobs as rabbis, they are still certified as rabbis. These women, if they take and pass the exams, would then also want to be deemed as rabbis, even if they commit to not taking jobs as rabbis. This might be too much for the Rabbanut - we'll have to wait and see what Rabbi Lau answers to them.
source: Ynetnews

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