In Tefillin for Women, by Women , Debra Nussbaum Cohen of the Forward talks about a Tefillin Gemach (free-lender) for women founded by Jen Taylor Friedman (female Torah scribe and creator of Tfilin Barbie). The interesting part is how the borrowers are mainly Jews from non-liberal streams. Why don’t women from Conservative backgrounds wear tefillin much? Nussbaum Cohen interviews Anne Lapidus Lerner on how hard it was to start wearing tefillin and how she underestimated the challange of getting women to feel comfortable.
Changing that, she said, would have to begin with rabbis, schools and camps requiring girls of bat mitzvah age to wear tefillin.
Years ago, Lerner was a scholar-in-residence at a Conservative synagogue in Kalamazoo, Mich. “I went to minyan there Sunday morning,” she said. “There were a lot of teenagers there at that minyan, and boys and girls were all in tefillin. When I asked why, the rabbi said, ‘It’s the rule here.’ That made all the difference.”
The only way to get past thousands of years of social and cultural barriers for people doing something (IMO) is to raise a generation who does it and sees it as normative.