It’s not feminism that’s killing the Jewish Conservative movement

Avi Woolf went on an anti-feminist rant that has nothing to do with Conservative Judaism, but hey–he gets in a lot of cracks about feminists and pretends he knows something about Conservative Judaism while he’s at it. And yet, I think he is utterly full of shit.

Sara, they left because you – that is feminism – won. You have made women entirely equal to men in every way and eliminated any passages or sayings “offensive” to women. Conservative Judaism is now either as egalitarian or close to the egalitarianism of other religious denominations which have adopted the same approach.

Except that in your struggle, you have also made men as a whole redundant, undervalued, unappreciated and unnecessary. Men now have nothing special in Conservative Judaism for which they are *needed* which women can’t do. Worse, you have made men *less* valued by constantly bashing or neutralizing male themes and expression while blowing female themes and expression out of proportion.

You and your compatriots loudly proclaimed “I don’t really need a man”; Men got the hint and went to where they are needed and appreciated.

Really? The reason men belong to Conservative Judaism is to feel needed? Or to think that they’re there to do something that a woman can’t do? It has nothing to do with, oh, I don’t know, things like observing the mitzvot, attending services, studying Torah, and giving charity? Because that’s what I’ve been taught Judaism is about. I don’t remember anyone teaching me (during my Conservative upbringing with only male rabbis and cantors) that Judaism was only about the role each gender played.

It sounds to me like Avi Woolf doesn’t know squat about Conservative Judaism. And it’s obvious he knows even less about the current Pew study on American Judaism, because if you take a quick look at the statistics, they don’t match his whining. Look at the division of American Jewish denominations:

35% Reform
30% No denomination
18% Conservative
10% Orthodox
6% Other

Whoops. Not too many Orthodox Jews there, are there? I don’t think Conservatives are heading that way. In fact, all American Jewish denominations are in trouble. But absolutely, Avi, take an anecdotal tale of a woman’s experience and extrapolate it–wrongly–to slam the Conservative Jewish movement and feminists.

Do me a favor: Don’t conflate your twisted version of feminism

“You and your compatriots loudly proclaimed “I don’t really need a man”

with women serving as rabbis, cantors, and lay leaders in Conservative congregations. Feminism isn’t about not needing men. It is about equality for women. I didn’t have a bat mitzvah growing up, but both my brothers did. Now as a lay leader, I lead the congregation in prayer when the rabbi is on vacation, and neither of my brothers go to synagogue. It isn’t about gender roles. It’s about commitment to your religion.

Find another scapegoat for your anti-feminism, Avi. Keep Conservative Judaism out of it. We’re doing just fine without a stuck-up Modern Orthodox misinterpreting our movement for us. And dude… really… I think you might have an issue with strong women. You may want to talk to someone about that.

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4 Responses to It’s not feminism that’s killing the Jewish Conservative movement

  1. Rahel says:

    Most people learn by kindergarten, or early elementary school at the latest, that saying “If I can’t have my way, I’ll take my toys and go home” is not a fitting way to deal with the situation. And that seems to be exactly what Avi Woolf is saying.

    Dude… learn to share.

  2. Grantman says:

    Nice reply, Meryl. Hit the nail on the head.

  3. Micha Elyi says:

    “Feminism… is about equality for women.”–Ms. Meryl Yourish

    That’s Big Lie Number One from the feminists. Feminists don’t want the “equality” that equal draft registration of men and women would bring. Feminists don’t want the “equality” that ending mother custody of children after divorce would bring. Feminists don’t want the “equality” of making health care and retirement expenses of women and men equal (females would lose here big time, baby). Feminists don’t want “equality”, period. They want more female-only privileges.

  4. Naif Mabat says:

    With all due respect, what matters here is the trend. And the trend does seem to be in the direction Avi Woolf suggests, even if he can’t be bothered to cite any sources.

    Here is one:

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