The Position Of Women In Modern Orthodoxy Is Not Changing

Essay: [Marc B.] Shapiro considers that while the position of women is discussed in some intellectual circles, their actual position in Modern Orthodoxy remains more or less the same as thirty or sixty years ago. “They function as mothers and homemakers as in previous generations. From my observations I don’t see much desire on the part of the typical Modern Orthodox woman to change this. Out in the suburbs, in the heartland of Modern Orthodoxy, synagogues continue to function as they always have.
“The typical Modern Orthodox synagogue does not permit a woman to be president. Women have no active involvement in the prayers and services. The fact that many women have college degrees has not translated into demands that the synagogue be run differently. Also, my experience is that the typical Modern Orthodox woman doesn’t want to get up every morning at 6 a.m. to go to services or to appear in synagogue early on Shabbat (who would watch the kids?). The typical Modern Orthodox man doesn’t look forward to doing this either, but many do, because they feel it is their religious obligation. Since women’s presence is not required at public prayer, I don’t see how it will ever be a significant religious activity for women.
“In some places such as Riverdale and Manhattan in New York there are very highly educated women who are ideologically committed to a certain type of Orthodoxy. There are some avant-garde type groups or synagogues where these women feel comfortable. These give them the right to read from the Torah or to take part more actively in the synagogue service.”

About Luke Ford

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