Sep 18, 2016

The first female Orthodox rabbi

The first Orthodox female rabbi has been appointed to a shul rabbinate position.

Mazel tov to Rabbi Lila Kagedan who is the first woman bold enough to insist on taking the title "Rabbi" rather than the alternate "Rabba" that a few trailblazers before her have already taken as a "compromise" to not shake the boat too much.

The shul is the Mount Freedom Jewish Center located in Randolph, New Jersey, and self-defines as "open orthodox" - a description that is currently at the heart of an ongoing debate as to its status and its membership under the umbrella of "Orthodox".

Some might say that by definition the shul must not be orthodox if it hired a female rabbi.

CNN says the Rabbi Kagedan hopes to normalize women in leadership roles. In general I think that it is praiseworthy, though I don't know about specifically in the role of rabbi... Theoretically I don't see any real problem with it, but it would definitely take some getting used to. She won't be able to get shlishi, shishi or the maftir aliyot in shul, and she won't be able to lead services. I see nothing wrong with a woman giving speeches and answering halachic questions and counsel families and individuals under her care. While perhaps the rabbi does not need to get aliyot or lead services to be an effective leader, I am not sure a leader who is curtailed like that can really be effective - just like I would not consider a male rabbi effective if he was a good speaker and had the ability to lead services but had no ability to counsel couples under his care or was not knowledgeable enough to answer halachic questions and give guidance.

Whether this becomes a focal point of a big fight or not, I do think that one day this will be considered a watershed moment in the history of Orthodox Judaism...


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  1. Is this the last hurdle (and revolution) that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, indicated would be the most difficult?

  2. Her orthodoxy means nothing. There is no such thing as an Orthodox woman rabbi. She would be considered a reformed rabbi. This is part of the new 'open orthodoxy' movement; started by rabbi avi weiss who started ordaining women and accepting gays as rabbis, etc. etc. This leads to the slippery slope until there is nothing left that can be considered Judaism, let alone, Torah Judaism. The RCA has already dismissed him and his ilk from their association. At least when the reform started their apikorus, they called themselves 'reformed' but to call it orthodoxy is plain oxymoronic, contradicting itself. Shame on them, especially, in the this chodesh Elul where all need to dp teshuvah. Suggest they start before more innocent jews who know little will be sucked into this downslide.

  3. Kol Hakavod to you for not knee-jerk rejecting this appointment and being open to see how it will play out.
    Like you I assume, it's not easy for me, with a strong yeshiva background, to think beyond the arba amot.

  4. Its an old story from months ago. The synagogue at the time did not adopt her title of rabbi, and from looking at the synagogue's website, she is not employed there.

    In short, a (failed) publicity stunt.

    1. The website does not appear to be updated. The dates for the upcoming yomim noraim are wrong.

    2. She takes the title rabbi, the synagogue doesn't.

      If you hire a new rabbi, or assistant rabbi, you update your website. Unless the details of the decision are up in the air.

      By the way, its more of a traditional synagogue, as opposed to a real orthodox synagogue. That's OK. But be more careful if claiming to be orthodox one day, traditional the next.


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