The motivation behind partnership minyanim is to narrow the wide gap between the relative gender equality that Orthodox women experience in their professional and civic lives and the gender stratification they experience in their religious lives. As Josephine Felix pointed out in an opinion piece in Brooklyn’s The Jewish Press, Orthodox women pursue every career imaginable, and in some circles they do it in greater numbers than their non-income producing, Talmud-studying husbands. “They may become CEO of a company, but when it comes to being president of a shul board, they are forbidden by many Orthodox legal scholars. They may be doctors whose decisions impact the life or death of a patient, but when it comes to deciding halacha, they cannot contribute,” Felix writes.I don't agree. I'm not interested. I don't see being able to lead prayers, aliyot to the Torah etc as the same as being on the board of the shul/synagogue or studying Talmud.
Women are said to be unable to handle the intellectual rigor of Talmud. When Orthodox women are professors or computer scientists, it makes that argument hard to swallow. Women who live in a civic society where male and female lawyers, witness and judges are treated as equally reliable by the courts may question the validity of the ban on female witnesses in Jewish law. Essentially, despite efforts to prevent it, the positive values of human rights and equality that are the fabric of Western culture are absorbed viscerally by women through their lived experiences, and when compared with the values of traditional Halacha, eventually the cognitive dissonance starts to cause a strain.
Orthodox feminists (both male and female) have been campaigning to make changes to prayer and ritual that empower women within the traditional framework. They do not want to leave Orthodoxy for Conservative Judaism. They like the closeness of the community, the way Orthodoxy permeates and informs all aspects of their lives. As Elana Sztokman put it in these pages, they “love everything about Orthodoxy except for the gender thing.”
Read more: http://forward.com/articles/194998/partnership-minyan-and-the-egalitarian-threat/#ixzz2x2LZO3bv
Felix's Jewish Press article nothing is mentioned at all about egalitarian minyanim. Felix's complaints are more about custom than halacha. Yes, the make up of a minyan and Torah reading etc are halachik questions, while Women's Talmud Study is a matter of custom.
I know many strictly Orthodox Jewish women who study Talmud and teach it. I davka study Tanach, Bible at Matan, but Talmud is on the curriculum there and at many other schools and institutes for Orthodox Jewish women. Some of the women who study Talmud may be members of egalitarian minyanim, but for most Talmud for the love of studying Talmud is the focus on and the reason for their studies. It's not to make a modern feminist point.
As I've written before, I don't go for dabbling, and I don't want new requirements. I doven everyday more than once and have no interest in adding Tefillin to my dovening experience/routine. Years ago when I was on the local synagogue committee I did insist on being included in all sorts of decisions and complained about the custom of having "unofficial meetings between mincha and ma'ariv. They did that out of custom, not Law/halacha.
It's human nature to consider oneself in the majority, but I see a danger in the insistence that most Orthodox women in today's world are in favor of these "partnership," aka egalitarian minyanim. I honestly don't see it as the case. I really don't think that most women want more responsibility in their lives.