Cite: Irshai, Dignity, Honor,and Equality: Torah Reading by Women in Israeli Modern Orthodoxy

Irshai, Ronit. “Dignity, Honor, and Equality in Contemporary Halachic Thinking: The Case of Torah Reading by Women in Israeli Modern Orthodoxy.” Modern Judaism 33.3 (2013): 332-56.



The past few years have witnessed the halachic discussion, in Modern Orthodox circles, of various suggestions for radical changes in the structure of prayer in the synagogue.According to these suggestions, women would be permitted to perform the reading of the Torah in synagogue in the framework of a standard orthodox congregation, and not in separate women’s prayer groups.


Can we honestly say, even in this case, that the dignity of women is not impinged upon as a result of their being deprived of honor? In other words, we can see that in situations in which one must set an order of precedence, women’s inferior religious status (their lower level of “holiness”) becomes more prominent, and a wealth of such examples exists throughout halachic literature.

As a result of all that has been said thus far I would like to challenge the claim that an attitude of “different but equal” does not, in practice, constitute an injury to women’s religious status or their level of holiness.

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