I am neither Hasid or hipster, yet I am linked to both fringe communities in different ways. Every generation has a counter-culture, and every religion has a fundamentalist extreme. The hipsters are my friends, and the Hasids are my tribe. They both live in the same neighborhood in New York City, and they are at war over women's bodies and bike lanes.
Raised as a Reform Jew by an ardent feminist, it was drilled into me that I could grow up to be anything I wanted. An astronaut, a doctor, the President — whatever (though I’m sure an underemployed freelance writer slacker mom wasn’t what my highly accomplished mother had in mind.)
Kol ishah is the singing voice of a woman, and something observant Jewish men are forbidden to hear. Too bad for them, because they are missing out. They are not listening to the voices of today’s Jewish women rock musicians, something that even those of us who do not observe kol ishah did not have the privilege of hearing until recently.
A year ago we congratulated Sara Hurwitz on becoming a Maharat. Today we rejoice in her new title: Rabbah.
The subject of ordaining Orthodox women rabbis is highly controversial. Last year Sara Hurwitz completed the required course of study in Yoreh Deah to become a spiritual leader, but instead of receiving the title of rabbi, a new title was created for her. "Maharat" was created from an acronym that loosely translates to mean a leader in religious law and spirtual matters.
I knew I would regret it as soon as I started typing, but I did it anyway. As much as I try to avoid getting into virtual arguments in talkback-land, this week I found myself unable to restrain myself. The language, it seems to me, is at the root of the problem, and that’s where the fight needs to take place.
You may have heard about the arrest last month of medical student Nofrat Frenkel for wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) when she prayed with Women of the Wall (WOW), a monthly women's prayer group that meets at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.