by R. Gil Student
The Orthodox Union (OU) released a statement last week announcing that it will implement the findings of a rabbinic panel it convened to study the issue of women rabbis (clergy).
For a number of years, a school run by rabbis calling themselves “Open Orthodox” has been ordaining women as clergy and sometimes placing them after graduation in shuls. To my knowledge, at one point six OU shuls had female clergy, although it is now down to four.
Over the past decade, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has issued three resolutions disapproving of women clergy, most recently in 2015 forbidding members of the rabbinical organization from ordaining women or hiring ordained women.
In response to questions from member shuls, the OU convened a rabbinic panel of leading scholars – poskim, roshei yeshiva, prominent shul rabbis, authors of well-received sefarim – to issue a decision on what is allowed in OU shuls.
The panel discussed the various halachic and hashkafic issues among themselves and also heard from the public – other shul rabbis, educators, lay leaders, interested men and women.
The rabbinic panel’s conclusion forbids women from serving as clergy. But it offers guidelines on other avenues of wome n’s leadership. The Orthodox community is blessed with many female educators, inspirational speakers, and organizational administrators. These are some of the leadership roles available to women. With these guidelines, more opportunities can be created that remain within the parameters of halacha and hashkafa.
Continued on the Jewish Press website: link