Modern Orthodox synagogues are pushing the boundaries of custom and religious law to create a more egalitarian prayer experience. But most of these pioneering communities are found in
Israel, rather than in the U.S.
It has been several weeks since the Talmud scholar Prof. Vered Noam published her article “Beyond the internal mehitza” in the Saturday magazine of the right-leaning daily Makor Rishon, and it continues to resonate on the internet and on Facebook walls.
Her main argument, for anyone who missed the article, is that women’s status, as expressed in traditional synagogues, requires the Orthodox to live life in extreme dissonance. On weekdays women are an inseparable part of human activity as well as civic and communal action and leadership, but on Shabbat they withdraw to a passive and paralyzed female niche.
Vered Noam’s point is spot on in explaining the sociological reasons for the rise of partnership minyanim.
And the articles suggestion that they are more popular in Israel than in North America (local successes notwithstanding!) is precisely because of the lack of a strong, ritual-based, observant, home-grown alternative. ( and frankly here in Toronto where there are successful partnership minyanim there is also a history of very few egalitarian alternatives.) Whereas egalitarian, ritually strong, observant Judaism is native to North America.