Written by Jessica Fishman
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Saturday, 29 June 2013

image for Not-So-Historic Halachic Ruling Ignored by American Jewish Community
Equality for men and women?

A few days ago, Orthodox Rabbis of the Beit Hillel organization made a halachic (Jewish law) ruling that allows women to recite the Kaddish, a prayer in memory of the deceased. In Israel, this ruling was considered surprising, groundbreaking, and controversial. However, most of the American Jewish Community mainly met this ruling with indifference, if they had even heard about it.

When told about the ruling, Erin Kaplan a sixty-year-old who identifies with the Jewish Conservative movement in America said, "You mean women weren't supposed to be saying the Kaddish? I've been saying it for my parents for years. So have many other women in my Synagogue. Are you sure that this was a recent ruling? There is no way. It just sounds so . . . archaic."

The Beit Hillel organization consists of 170 male and female Orthodox Rabbis and it aims to present Judaism in a more authentic, enlightened, and inclusive way. The ruling was made by the organization's rabbis after they researched the issue for a number of months.

"Is this actually an issue? It seems to me that this should be like a non-issue, sort of like Gay rights. It amazes me that in this day and age, we haven't already come to these conclusions," stated Mark Goldberg, a thirty-year-old Jewish American who works in the Jewish community.

The ruling will be distributed in 60,000 copies in Israeli synagogues.

"The Reform and Conservative movements have been allowing Jewish women to say Kaddish for decades. It is only a matter of time for the Orthodox to catch up with our other rulings and interpretations - like accepting women as part of a minyan, allowing them to read Torah, or simply permitting them to sing," stated Rabbi Yonaton Katz of the Beit Israel Conservative Synagogue.

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