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Week of Dec. 10, 2015

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Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO
Letters to the Editor THE CJN PHOTO

Ordaining women as rabbis

Change, as Rabbi Lila Kagedan alluded to in her article, is difficult and slow (“Why Orthodox Judaism needs female rabbis”). The reasoning behind such a shift in a religious belief could possibly take centuries to accept. But why not now?

I am more than sure that Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of Yeshivat Maharat, where these women received smichah, has the knowledge, credibility and sincerity to conduct this change.

These women are brilliant scholars who, just like their male counterparts, can perform the functions of a rabbi. Call them what you want, they are trained and learned in rabbinical discourse and deserve the smichah they receive. Not accepting these credible and most deservingly incredible achievements is the dilemma for the individual who doesn’t accept them.

Even for myself, the challenge of accepting female rabbis will come with a bit of resistance. However, I am reminded of all the changes in my life that I resisted and in time became second nature.

The truth is these women are learned, committed to their heritage and dedicated to our communities.

Elizabeth Bright

Cote St. Luc, Que.


Those critical of the Rabbinical Council of America’s rejection of female ordination are welcome to argue with it. However, their arguments should reflect the Jewish talent for analytical thinking, particularly when they come from a rabbi. Rabbi means teacher, and a teacher should, first and foremost, be teaching his or her students to think analytically.

Rabbi Lila Kagedan and letter writer Sofia Freudenstein both bemoaned how the RCA decision diminished their ability to participate in Jewish tradition. Surely, they must acknowledge they are seeking to change tradition.

They are welcome to argue why tradition should change, but they should not try to fool themselves or others by saying they are embracing tradition.

Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz

Toronto


Canada at the UN

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) recently engaged in its annual Israel-bashing session, involving the adoption of one-sided, politically motivated and unconstructive resolutions that condemn only Israel while ignoring the actions of the Palestinians or Israel’s other adversaries.

Canada’s Jewish community has always viewed Canada’s voting record on such resolutions as a litmus test of this country’s support for Israel (“Trudeau government backs Israel at United Nations”).

So it was that Jewish support, reflected in votes and financial contributions, shifted from the Liberals to the Conservative Party in reaction to the Chrétien government’s practice throughout the 1990s and early 2000s of abstaining on or supporting UNGA resolutions unfairly critical of Israel. By contrast, Stephen Harper’s Conservative’s record of consistently opposing all such resolutions was overwhelmingly perceived by Canadian Jews as an indication of that government’s strong support for Israel.

It is, therefore, encouraging to note that the new Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, voted against the resolutions condemning Israel at the UN General Assembly earlier this month. This can be seen as an important indication of continuity from the previous Conservative government to the current Liberal one, both with respect to Canada’s vote at the UNGA and this country’s strong, non-partisan support for Israel.

David H. Goldberg

Toronto