Op Ed: Adieu to “for Thou hast not made me a woman”

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky wrote last week:

I’ve stopped blessing God every morning for “not having made me a woman”.

Women have come a long way in Orthodox Judaism over the past few decades, in particular in the realm of study and scholarship. But grevious inequalities and instances of maltreatment persist. This is because we have not yet spoken candidly about the dignity of women in our tradition. Worse, each morning we actually reinforce the inherited prejudice that holds that women possess less innate dignity than men.

Women are still extorted routinely during divorce proceedings, as rabbinical courts urge them to forfeit various rights in exchange for her husband’s deigning to give the “get” that she needs. Simply for lack of male reproductive organs, otherwise qualified women are still barred from the rabbinate, and from many positions of communal leadership. She can be a judge, but not a dayan. A brain surgeon, but not a posek. And often she must content herself with davening in a cage in shul, from where her desire to say kaddish for a parent may or may not be tolerated. This is no way to run a religion that claims wisdom as its inheritance. But every morning in the daily blessings, we unthinkingly mouth the philosophical justification for these demeaning, arbitrary, discriminatory practices.

…I cannot take God’s name in the context of this blessing anymore. I suspect, at this point in history, that it constitutes a Desecration of the Name, God forbid. In time-honored rabbinic tradition, “better to sit and not do”.

We have, without doubt, come a long way toward overcoming the prejudice against and the shameful treatment of women. But most of the work is yet to be done.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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