Highlight of My Day
Rabbi, there’s a woman on the phone who would like to talk to a rabbi.
The excitment about this kind of intercom announcement is the unknown factor. Who might be the voice on the other end of the line? Man? Woman? Young? Old? Is it a query? A call for help? Spiritual assistance? A soul-searcher?
No matter how many times our administrative assistant puts through this type of call, a surge of anticipation always courses through me.
FrumeSarah: “Hello. This is Rabbi Frummie.”
FrumeSarah: “Hello. This is Rabbi Frummie. Can you hear me?”
FS: “Hi. This is Rabbi Frummie. May I help you?”
Woman: “Are you a rabbi? Or a rebbetzin?”
FS: “I’m a rabbi.”
Woman (indignently): “Usually a rabbi is a man.”
FS: “Not since 1972.”
Yep. A woman hung up on me because of my gender.
The ordination of women has been a topic of great contention since the late 1800’s. As far as most of the world is concerned, the first female rabbi was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972. I somehow managed to be ordained without hearing the name ‘Regina Jonas.’ Fraulein Rabbiner Regina Jonas.
Today, three of the four Jewish movements ordain rabbis. Decisions that were made after a considerable amount to internal reflections and debate. Last to the party? Orthodox Judaism. Most of the Orthodox world does not accept the notion that a woman can be ordained as a rabbi. There are those on the Left, however, who hold a different opinion, having conferred the title “Rabbah” on Sara Hurwitz.
I respect the differences of opinion on this matter. Key word: r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Hanging up on me? Not respectful.