Women & Ritual

Women & Ritual

After a year of learning and sharing, we are moving forward with the next stage in the Women and Ritual process.

Rabbi Cutler believes that there are pathways in halakhah (Jewish law) that would allow expanded ritual opportunities for women. The decision to take these paths is dependent in part on the beliefs of our community as well as balancing the weight of tradition with other Jewish values.

Here are brief synopses of some topics that may be helpful as you complete the Survey.

A. כבוד הצבור (K’vod HaTzibbur)
Historically, women could read Torah and have aliyot; however, in practice they did not because of a concept called כבוד הצבור (K’vod HaTzibbur).

The concept is used with respect to an action/ritual that might conflict with one’s positive image of him/herself, Judaism or Jewish observance. Today, the Adath Israel membership may have a different understanding of what fits within the boundaries of כבוד הצבור than previous generations.

B. Counting in the Minyan
Various rituals that sanctify God’s name such as reciting Kaddish and reading Torah require a minyan, a quorum of at least 10 individuals who are bound by mitzvot and are members of the covenant.

Of importance is that the composition of the minyan does not offend the honour of heaven and that the minyan is itself a microcosm of the community as a whole. While some believe that all members of the minyan must have the same level of obligation vis-à-vis mitzvot, there are others who do not see this as a requirement.

C. Women as Prayer Leaders

In Judaism, one cannot perform מצוות (mitzvot) on behalf of others unless they themselves are obligated to fulfill that particular mitzvah.

For most of Jewish history, communities believed that only men were required to pray three times per day. Since women were not seen to have the same level of obligation vis-à-vis prayer compared to men, they could not pray on behalf of a group that included men by serving as a prayer leader.

Role of Women Survey

Adult members in each household have been sent the survey through their Shulcloud account.

  • If you did not receive your survey, please contact the office to identify yourself and a link will be sent privately.
  • As a security feature, each adult member within a household must use a different device to complete the survey (Eg. laptop, computer, phone, tablet).

Your participation is greatly appreciated and will help set the course of the synagogue in the years to come.  We look forward to sharing the results of this consultation as well as the synagogue’s Women and Ritual roadmap by the end of August.



Rabbi Adam Cutler, Senior Rabbi

Barry Green, Chair, Ritual Committee

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