Voyeurism allegations against a prominent American rabbi have inadvertently led to the elevation of the status of Orthodox Jewish women, Judy Maltz said Wednesday.
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In an interview with Aimee Amiga, the Haaretz correspondent said that after Rabbi Barry Freundel was charged with secretly filming women immersing in the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), the Rabbinical Council of America made a “revolutionary move” to appoint women as ombudsmen for females undergoing conversion.
“There have never been women involved in these rabbinical courts before in Orthodoxy,” Maltz, who specializes in matters of religion and state, pointed out.
Changes are also occurring in Israel's religious establishment, said Maltz; the Chief Rabbinate is gradually losing its monopoly on governing Jewish life here due to Orthodox Israelis who have “lost patience” with the authority.
There are also tensions between the Rabbinate and non-Orthodox movements. These are particularly evident when it comes to the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. One-and-a-half years of negotiations have not yet yielded an agreement to create an egalitarian prayer space at the holy site.
Maltz says this is because the feminist group Women of the Wall has not been making news headlines lately, which has alleviated pressure from rabbinical authorities to reach an outcome.
Watch the full interview here: