Letter to Rabbinical Council of America to Support Women's Leadership Roles
The Rabbinical Council of America
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To The Members Of the Rabbinical Council of America:
It is disheartening that we have been compelled to write this letter. The release of the RCA's recent statement regarding Orthodoxy and womens leadership roles, makes it distressingly clear that the RCA has no intention of supporting women's entrance into Jewish leadership. While the RCA seems to place more importance on the semantics of titles rather than confronting the underlying issue, Jewish women across America are waiting with bated breath to see whether the RCA will include women in communal decision-making and allow them to fulfill their full potential as members of the Jewish community.
Thus far in its 75 years of existence, the male structure of the RCA and synagogues around America have dictated our communal development. Even if the emergence of women religious leaders, such as Rabba Hurwitz, may be an uncomfortably large leap for the RCA at this point, there are still many steps that organizations and synagogues could take to include women in communal decision-making and in leadership capacities that would serve the important function of including the creative and powerful voice of Jewish women.
The undersigned, as well as many others in our Orthodox communities, strongly desire to see efforts and support from the RCA to enable women in positions of religious communal leadership. Doing so not only empowers Orthodox women to contribute to their communities in integral ways, but also offers them a goal in their pursuit of higher levels of Torah study. The RCAs position on women's leadership creates ceilings and limits for women's religious and spiritual growth, and truly inhibits the enormous contributions that women can make to our communities. It also creates a significant schism and enormous frustration for women who see that they are so empowered in the secular sphere but see this empowerment is absent in the sphere that is most important to them.
I applaud those brave, learned women leaders who have stood with dignity, committed to their religious learning, halachic observance, and steadfast dedication to their communities, despite the unfortunate lack of support from the RCA. The RCA should encourage its members and affiliates to create communal leadership positions for women in their respective communities. It is my hope that the RCA will realize the enormous meaning their support would have to these women, and the immense benefit this would have in our communities by increasing the quality of Orthodox leadership, the faith of Orthodox women in our religious system, and strengthening observance and commitment to a Torah life of klal yisrael.
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