Orthodox Urged to Give Women Greater Role in Religious Life

An Orthodox rabbinic scholar called upon the Orthodox community today to give a greater voice and role to Jewish women in religious life within the framework of Jewish religious law. Rabbi Moshe S. Gorelik, chairman of the 41st annual convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, the Orthodox rabbinical association, spoke at the concluding session of the convention.

“We must be sensitive to the changes in current patterns of thought and lifestyles affecting the role of women in our society,” he declared. “Today women are actively seeking their own identity and wish to be treated as complete equals with men.”

He said “Women should be encouraged to strengthen their participation in the religious community such as on synagogue boards, educational institutions and philanthropic agencies. Their involvement should be in primary roles and not merely as auxiliaries,” he said.

Gorelik said that “even as we call for a greater sensitivity of the woman’s role in the Orthodox community, we strongly denounce the Conservative and Reform leaders for distorting the position of Orthodox Judaism regarding the role of women.” He said “the solution is not to ask the woman to imitate the man but rather to ascribe dignity to her as a unique being and copartner with man in the creation of an authentic Jewish life.”

Dr. Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University, said last night that “We have overstressed beyond all necessary proportions the issue of mixed pews.” He said “I believe that much more attention should be directed to such questions as the observance of the Sabbath, the preservation of kashrut in the home and the observance of the laws of family purity.”

At a symposium last night Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Lincoln Square Synagogue said many women require special participation in services. “I urge that wherever halacha permits, room should be made for these women to express their sense of identity with Torah Judaism,” he said.

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