Modern Orthodox Rabbinic Group Rules Women Can Dance With Torah Scroll

Beit Hillel, an Israeli modern Orthodox rabbinical organization posts ruling on its website for Sukkot.

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Hoisting a Torah in Tel Aviv. September 26, 2013.
Hoisting a Torah in Tel Aviv. September 26, 2013.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Women are permitted to dance with a Torah scroll on the Simchat Torah holiday, an Israeli modern Orthodox rabbinical organization ruled.

Beit Hillel posted the religious ruling on its website for the holiday, which falls on Wednesday night and Thursday.

The ruling also encourages synagogues to be more inclusive of the elderly, the youth and people with disabilities during the celebration, which includes seven circuits of the Torah scrolls with singing and dancing.

In the Orthodox community, women generally are not permitted to read from the Torah scroll or hold a Torah scroll.

“Women who see this as important are permitted to dance with a Torah scroll or around a Torah which is on a table in the middle of the dancing,” the religious ruling read.

“In our generation, many women are active partners in prayers and classes as they are in other parts of community life If women’s participation on Simchat Torah amounts to watching from the women’s section or arranging the tables for kiddush, then this is a sad fact.”

The ruling also recommended other ideas for involving women more in Simchat Torah celebrations, including designating a woman as the kallah Torah, or bride of the Torah, in the same way as a man is designated as the chatan Torah, or groom of the Torah, and to make sure there is enough dance space for the women, as well as consult with the women on the songs that will be sung.

Beit Hillel was founded in 2012 to counter religious extremism and bridge the secular-religious divide.

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