This week I attended a prayer service with a difference. It was a Torah reading conducted entirely by women. Most were wearing tallises and kippas. I am from a more traditional background and found it unusual, but I think it's a good thing. Isn't is positive that women are participating more in their Judaism?


I think it is fantastic that more women are exploring their Jewishness, and they should be encouraged in their thirst for Jewish connection. But to be honest, I don't understand how such a prayer service is feeding this thirst.

Either you believe Judaism is a G‑d-given religion, or you believe it is man-made. Either way, it doesn't make sense for women to be doing what men do.

If Judaism is G‑d-given, then its laws are absolute and cannot be changed. And they shouldn't be changed, because G‑d knows what He is doing. If Judaism says that men wear tallises and read the Torah, and women don't, this is not unfair discrimination. Rather we were given different roles because G‑d — who created men and women differently — knows what each needs for their spiritual fulfillment. G‑d is not sexist.

Others say that Judaism is man-made and therefore its laws are changeable. According to this view, it would be fair to assume that Judaism discriminates against women, because the rules were made up by men who lived long before the call for women's rights was heard. All ancient cultures were unfair and oppressive, so why should a man-made Judaism be any different?

But if that is indeed the case, why would women want to adopt practices that were concocted by misogynistic men three thousand year ago? Are women really fulfilled by mimicking male practices? This seems to insult women rather than liberate them.

Either these practices are divinely ordained and should remain as they always were, or are human inventions and should be replaced.

I believe Judaism is divine. It doesn't need updating. It needs us to delve deeper to find its message for our times. We are blessed to live in a generation in which women are given every opportunity to discover for themselves what Judaism has to offer. Some women have adopted men's customs; but others have rediscovered a uniquely feminine spirituality within Jewish tradition that is fulfilling and powerful. I feel this approach is more true to the woman's soul.

Let the female voice of Judaism be heard. The world needs it now more than ever.