A lawyer and retired soldier argues that Orthodox Jewish women should be fully included as rabbis, cantors and minyan members.
In this short work, attorney Krivcher, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a member of a Reform Jewish congregation, pleads for fairness for Orthodox Jewish women, who face religious participation restrictions that Orthodox Jewish men do not. He describes a catalyzing episode after his father’s funeral, when mourners decided to form a minyan, or a quorum of members for communal worship. “Soft whispers circulated as heads were counted in a search for the magic formula of ten men….Despite my pleas for flexibility, I was dismissively advised that none of the women present would be counted.” He and his wife left rather than support such marginalization. Today, the author attends a Reform temple with a female cantor and assistant rabbi. Krivcher comes by his commitment to fairness via his background in civil rights. To many readers, fairness may seem like a self-evident good, but an Orthodox Jew might ask: What does fairness, or a woman’s natural ability, have to do with following God’s laws? The body of laws, or halakhah, governing Jewish life might be up for argument, but Krivcher refuses to engage in “biblical or liturgical analysis, as I hope to avoid becoming mired in…several centuries of interpretation.” But to Torah-observant Jews, that’s an important discussion, and as a result, Krivcher’s plea may fall on deaf ears. Interestingly, the author hardly mentions feminists within Orthodoxy, assuming that most Orthodox women suffer from low self-esteem; instead, he calls on Orthodox men to lead change. He does note that some women are trying to bring about change in the context of halakhah, but again, he has little patience with the subject—to the detriment of achieving his aim. This short work is lengthened some with extras, including the text of a Martin Luther King speech.
A well-intentioned, heartfelt plea for fairness, but one unlikely to change minds.