Menachem Mendel

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No Women Blessing Hanukkah Candles at BGU-Updated

Israel Channel 10 broadcast a segment on how at the official Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony for Ben-Gurion University no women were allowed to either light candles or sing. The rabbi of the university was the authority that decided that this would be the policy and he was supported by the administration. After protests the administration did say that women can light a candle, but only with a man and no blessing.  Next year women would be able to light candles at a separate ceremony and say the blessing, but still no singing. What a disgrace.

Below is the video of the news report. (Hebrew)


Update: Thanks to the public outcry on the last night of Hanukkah a woman lit and made the blessing on the Hanukkah candles at BGU. Kudos to BGU for making the right decision. (Hat tip to Sigal Samuel’s tweet and Emily Hauser’s retweet.)

bgu hanukkah


The picture is from the BGU Facebook page.

Updated: The rabbi of Bar-Ilan University now claims that he never prohibited women from lighting Hanukkah candles at the university ceremony.

7 Responses to “No Women Blessing Hanukkah Candles at BGU-Updated”

  1. 1

    On the contrary, you should be proud of them for expressing their opinion. Weren’t we told during the Bush years that dissent is the highest form of patriotism? I’m a little surprised at you, MM. Where’s your respect for religious tolerance and plurality? Critics of BGU should be ashamed.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    The rabbi of BGU is welcome to his opinion, but is BGU an orthodox synagogue or a university?

  3. 3

    These are questions of sensitivity to tradition, not of orthodox synagogues. Menorah lighting is not a mere ceremony, like lighting the Olympic torch or cutting a ribbon, but a religious act ordained by halacha. By your logic, you should also be able to have nudists or public homosexuals lighting the menorah because, why not, its not an orthodox synagogue. If you indeed think you should, and of course you are welcome to your opinion, then you are not speaking the same language as people who respect religion and tradition.

    Shame on BGU for capitulating. The history of those that give in indicate that as a university, it has now jumped the shark.

  4. 4

    Derech agav, I am just wondering – if his decisions don’t mean anything, what the hell does BGU even have a rabbi for?

    For illustration, the Rabbi of my shul found out this summer that a summer camp for which he served as camp Rav, coming up periodically throughout the summer, was allowing girls to carry the sefer torah when it was taken out. He asked them to stop, and they – like BGU here – refused to listen. That is certainly their right, and the Rabbi did what was his right, and resigned. He had unanimous consent, in writing, from the Shul Board, which includes people who went to that camp and send their children there. Because if they are not going to listen to him on a matter of policy, there is no point in being the rabbi. Let them become reform or conservative, but don’t allow them to use your name for the cachet of being orthodox. I hope the rabbi of BGU has the same moral fiber and immediately severs his name from the school. Let them find some other rav mitaam to be their rubber stamp.

  5. 5
    Menachem Mendel (Michael P.):

    BGU, like probably all universities in Israel, has a rabbi who oversees the synagogue and maybe some more things. In my opinion if the rabbi of a public university cannot be lenient enough to allow a woman to light a Hanukkah candle then he probably shouldn’t be the rabbi of the university. If he cannot allow an act that has strong support within the halakhah and which I would guess has the support of over ninety percent of the student body, so be it.

  6. 6

    In other words, they should hire someone who agrees with their litmus tests and will not dare do anything different than what the Board says. A rubber stamp, in other words. Imagine what the United States would be like if the supreme Court was just a rubber stamp for the executive.

  7. 7

    By the way, is there strong support in halacha too for a woman to walk around in a dress like that?

    (Wink and gunpoint. Shabbat Shalom.)




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