Partnership Minyans in Israel
Last year in Haaretz Vered Kellner wrote an article about the difference between Partnership minyans in Israel and America. She claimed that the number of Partnership minyans in Israel seems to be increasing, while in America this doesn’t seem to be true.
My question–and I have been bothered by this issue for some time–is why the women in the large Orthodox communities of America, the Teanecks and the Woodmeres and so many places in between, seem to be satisfied with the status quo. Are they not really satisfied but unable or unwilling to raise their voices? Are they traditionalists, as you describe, to the point that they are willing to sacrifice their own religious self-fulfillment in order to “daven like their mothers and grandmothers”?
I don’t know if she is correct or not, but in America they do seem to be on the defensive, with Yeshiva University apparently making them the new litmus test of whether you are Orthodox or not. (See this post that has conveniently collected most of the writings on the issue of Partership minyanim and women wearing tefillin.) Supporters of Partnership minions have responded, although I do think that this issue is going to be the catalyst for a realignment within Modern Orthodoxy.
I thought of these events when I listened to a recent broadcast of the Israeli radio program “Seventy Faces” (שבעים פנים). (Podcasts of the program can be found here or streamed here.) Before I explain what I found interesting in the program, a few words about the program itself. “Seventy Faces” is a radio program about the weekly parashah that directly addresses the intersection of current events, politics, and the parashah. It should also be pointed out that it is broadcast on the Israeli-Palestinian Internet radio station All For Peace (כל השלום-a wordplay on the legendary radio station the Voice of Peace, קול השלום).
A recent installment was devoted to Megillat Esther and the guests were Shuki Friedman and Gilit Homski. Before they began to talk about Megillat Esther, Friedman and Homski described how a new Partnership minyan is going to meet for the first time this Shabbat in Givat Shmuel, a city that is one of the epicenters of the national-religious community in Israel. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is opposition, but while people often think that Israel has a very centralized Judaism because of the Chief Rabbinate, while to some extant this is true, it is also a very decentralized Judaism. In reality, a group of people can start whatever type of minyan that they want. There is much less of a worry about what “the rabbi” is going to say or whether the synagogue is going to allow it. While it might not always be so simple to start whatever type of minyan that you would like, to some extant, all you have to do is find a room, a Sefer Torah and get things going.
Below is a recording of the program.