You insist that men and women have to be separated by a mechitzah when it comes to prayer and meditation. But I've attended services where men and women engage in serious meditation and prayer together. I saw women acting as rabbis and cantors and wearing talit and tefillin and being called to Torah—and I saw the joy and passion they had in doing so. Why should it be denied to them? Don't you agree that feminine spirituality needs to be honored in the liturgy, not just in the kitchen and the nursery?


Much of what you write resonates with me. Women's spirituality is a burning issue today with which the orthodox Jewish world must come to terms. Not enough is being done for today's woman. Where we part, however, is in the suggestion that mixed services are the solution.

Let's back up a little. The common assumption is that spirituality and sensuality are mutually exclusive. Who says? Yes, there is the perfect tzadik who transcends these matters entirely. But I'm talking about the rest of us, for whom the two seem to go hand in hand: The greater the sensitivity to spiritual matters, the more attuned we are to sensual matters as well.1

And that sensuality is not something we are meant to kill. After all, it lies at the core of human spirituality—even of the divinity of the entire cosmos.2 The first human being, the Torah tells us, was created male and female—and that is what the Torah calls the Divine Image. The Divine Presence—the Shechina—rests in the union of man and woman as one—when that union is sanctified by marriage, by keeping the times of separation, and by the hearts and mental focus of two that become one.3 That place is called the Holy of Holies, where "no person shall be" when the Shechina is present.4

If so, it would seem to me that when a normal man watches a woman carrying a Sefer Torah, listens to her voice chanting its words, feels her presence as a member of his group spiritual experience—and is not sensually affected by that experience, then something in that male is either dead or in denial.

In our community (Thornhill, Ontario), several groups of women have begun "Tehillim Groups" which involve much more than reciting psalms. Women sing, pray together, share teachings and come away in an elevated state. As one woman told me, "No one who has come has not seen miracles in her life."

Along with the many Rosh Chodesh groups that are sprouting up, I see these as proliferating and evolving into a uniquely feminine form of group worship and spirituality. Let us men remain men and women be the ultimate of being women. And what we share will be in private, and in holiness.5