That the Orthodox Union has come out prohibiting member congregations from employing women as clergy is not surprising, but is nonetheless dismaying. This expected move places our Modern Orthodox rabbinic leadership another step closer to permanent irrelevancy. How can a movement describe itself as “modern” when it bases its definition of women’s roles in our communities on the mores and standards of the 7th and 8th centuries CE?
Many of us in the Modern Orthodox community hunger for our rabbis to address the real problems and issues that face us on a daily basis. I have been struck by the absence of discussion and guidance time and again when matters of great import and crises affect our communities. Rather than guiding us on how to deal with relationships, sexual identity, race, corruption, business ethics and violence, it seems much safer for rabbis to focus on why a learned women cannot speak from the bima during the time of prayer.
It is time for “modern” Orthodoxy to actually become modern and not remain an oxymoron.