Shanna Tova to all.

I davened this Rosh Hashana at a progressive orthodox minyan that is slowly heading toward egalitarianism. Women lead pezukei dzimra, torah reading, kabbalat Shabbat- generally things other than chazarat Hashatz. Though it is far from total equality- it is named the Minyan Shivyoni shel Baka.

At the start of davening it felt truly amazing to be praying with a community that believes strongly in feminism and in halacha’s amazing strength as a dynamic growing system that can with stand change. Instead of feeling like I should be asking God to forgive me for my feminist “sins” of the year, (which I often feel when I pray amongst more frum crowds) I was able to focus on the things that I really believe I need to change about myself.

Unfortunately by the end of chag my excitement was waning. With Mussaf being such a central part of davening on Rosh Hashana, there was a sense that the women were bring thrown a bone, leading Avinu Malkenu, le’David Mizmor, and the shortened kabbalat shabbat. The inclusion of women in things “less important” illustrated how limited our progress truly is.

On the other hand us women have a lot of learning to do about how to lead and how to inspire as shlichot ztibbur. I for one felt an amazing rush crying out “Hashem hu melech Hacavod” in Ledavid Mizmor, standing in front of the open Aron. I had never managed to feel the power of declaring God’s kingship in my private tefilot as I did at that moment. On the other hand I am not sure whether my voice wavered or whether the kahal was moved by my amateur agility with the nusach.

Slowly slowly, I think we are on the right track.  

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