Jan 5, 2012

Rabbanut Moving Towards Gender-Equality

As a result of all the recent hullabaloo over gender-segregation, examining every aspect of public life for instances of even the slightest slighting and/or [perceived] inequality of women has become the national sport. the secular are examining every detail of religious life for any possible point to attack on, and the haredim are examining every aspect of secular and dati life looking for hypocrisy and to show that there to they do not treat women equally (and plenty has been found).

The Rabbanut of Israel has announced, in two separate instances this week, of improving the level of equality for women within their systems:
  1. The issue of women at funerals has been a touchy point in the past. Some chevra kadishas have been known to insist on the custom of women not attending, or eulogizing at, the actual burial. It caused a ruckus when the women in a family wanted to attend their fathers funeral and the specific chevra kadisha did not allow it.

    I will add that it is only some chevra kadishas, as I have been to plenty of funerals where women were present at the burial.

    While Yaakov Margi was originally waiting for a ruling by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar before he decided how to instruct chevra kadishas to act in this regard, he has now decided to not wait any longer. Rather, he has decided to instruct the chevra kadishas based on a ruling already given by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. Rabbi Metzger already ruled that the tradition of keepnig women away is just that -  a tradition. It is not actual halacha. Margi has decided to rely on this decision to instruct the chevra kadishas that women should be allowed, when they so desire, to be present at funerals.
    (source: Ynet)
  2. The Rabbanut announced that they are looking for ways to integrate women into positions within the Rabbanut. While obviously there will not be a "Rabbah" appointed, and there will not be female dayanim, as that is against halacha, other positions might be made available to women such as the position of mashgiach kashrut.
    (source: Israel Hayom)

    Hiring women as mashgiach kashrut, or as a mashgicha, is nothing new. In the USA and in [some places in Europe] women have been filling such roles for a long time. While it became less popular in recent years, female mashgiachot have been making a comeback. Cleveland is famous for having one, Rav Shternbuch has famously paskened that a woman could be a mashgiach kashrut, the Star K has had women emplyed as mashgichot for a long time and continues training women for these jobs. The OU has been training women in kashrut and said it is possible they might formally train them to act as mashgichot as well, and many cities local kashrut organizations have been employing women in this fashion for a long time already.

    I expect in Israel where everything is a bit [a lot] more extreme, this will be used as another reason to put down the Rabbanut as even more unreliable than they already consider it.  


  1. Women supervising kashrut in the kitchen--an old idea whose time has come

  2. Women "work" as mashgichot, but don't get paid. It's definitely something that shouldn't be restricted to men.

    I'd like to see more teaching of "bein adam l'chavero" and chessed, including that it's a mitzvah to give a pregant or "older" woman a seat in a bus.

  3. It's a mitzvah to give an older (or sick or tired) PERSON a seat on the bus. Interestingly although 52, because of my white hair, I get offered a seat by religious and secular alike!

  4. One of Efrat's kashrut supervisors, from the Rabbinate, has been of the female species for years

  5. Ben,

    You said: ... has been of the female species for years

    What was she before that?

  6. Already in Israel - In the spa Hamat Gader there are mashgichot, because the men don't want to supervise in such an undressed atmosphere. From what I heard.

  7. What possible excuse can there be for not allowing a woman to supervise kashrut.

    If a woman's testimony is not valid about kashrut then these charedim better make sure that the men do all the cooking every single day. Indeed they better have a lock on the kitchen to ensure only tattie and sons ever cook.


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