Last week, Rabbi Scott Perlo wrote a provocative article in the Washington Post in which he addressed the continuing discomfort that many Jews—even liberal, gender-equity-supporting ones—feel about female rabbis. He suggests that this puzzling phenomenon may be due to the central place nostalgia holds in many people’s feelings about Judaism. It comes as no surprise that this nostalgic vision does not include female rabbis.
Perlo points out that these days, at least half of rabbinical students in the seminaries of the liberal denominations are women. On one hand, this could point toward a solution. Eventually, as women become even more of a regular presence on the bima, and as the older congregants who grew up in a world without female rabbis pass away, the prejudice against female clergy will become a thing of the past. Already, we hear stories of little boys who laugh at the suggestion they could become rabbis, declaring, “That’s for girls!” We may have arrived at the tipping point, or very nearly.
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