Conservative Synagogues Now Count Women for Minyan

Questions relating to the role of women in the synagogue are coming up with increasing frequency before the Committee on Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly, according to Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-president of the Conservative rabbinical organization. More often than not, the committee’s rulings serve to broaden the women’s role.

Rabbi Kelman said questions arising before the committee were a “barometer” indicating what issues were uppermost in the minds of Jews at a given time. In past years some of the most frequent questions related to mixed seating and calling women to read the Torah, a matter that was settled in favor of women as long ago as 1954. Now the questions reflect a growing concern with additional women’s rights in synagogue services, Rabbi Kelman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview today. He said a questionnaire on the role of women was recently sent out to Conservative affiliated synagogues and the results will be available by the end of summer.

A growing number of Conservative synagogues are now counting women for the minyan–the minimum quorum of ten persons required by Jewish tradition for public worship services. Last week the Park Avenue Synagogue’s Board of Trustees approved this practice. Rabbi Kelman said the exact number of Conservative synagogues presently counting women will not be known until the questionnaire is ready. He estimated it as between ten and 100.

The counting of women for the minyan was unanimously approved by the Committee on Law and Standards on May 13, 1970.

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