Policy Statement on the Role of Women
The following policy statement was discussed in the community, and officially adopted as policy in November 2000. Although it is official policy for Liberal Talmidis, it was also given assent by the Yeshuinist community, as well as moderate Ebionites.
Liberal Talmidi Statement on the Role of Women in the Community
Being aware that there are certain just causes which cannot be left to chance, or to trust in the wisdom of future elders to interpret scripture justly for all time, we must therefore state unequivocally and without ambiguity, our position on matters which are of importance to our community.
In our community, we desire every human being, whoever they may be, to achieve their full potential as children of God, and with this in mind, we seek to ensure that nothing hinders their path to realising their potential.
In the past, teachers and scholars with imperfect motives have sought to divide the children of God, separating men out from women, elevating the one, while lowering the status of the other. We believe this to be unjust, and not part of God’s original plan, for man and woman were both created in the image of God.
We remember that Miryam, the sister of Moses, was a great prophetess; we remember that Deborah, judge and prophetess, was a leader of our people; and we remember the great love and devotion Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel, and Ruth, ancestress of King David, showed to YHWH our God. And we remember how women preserved the faith and traditions of Israel in times of persecution and trial.
We therefore state and affirm, that women have an equal and positive role to play in the life of the community. Every religious position that is open to men shall also be open to women, and every opportunity open to men shall also be open to women.
In the practical life of a fully functioning community:
- women shall not be segregated when we gather together for communal prayer
- women shall have the right to train to become Elders and to teach Torah
- women shall have the right to enter institutions and roles at the same age as men
- women shall have the right to be called up to read from the scroll of the Torah
- women shall have the right to lead prayers
- women shall have the right to formally study Torah and the other books of the bible (Miqra)
- women shall have access to all aspects of the ritual life of our community
- women shall have the right to wear prayer-shawls (tallitot) when they pray, and to have tassels (tzitzit) and blue cords (techelet) on their prayer-shawls
In the language of prayer:
- inclusive language shall be used in our liturgy
- non-gender specific language shall be used when referring to God
In the cycle of life:
- rituals specific to women should not be seen as being of lesser importance than those specific to men
- for those women who enjoy religious ritual, those customs which deal specifically with the cycle of a woman’s life should be presented in a positive manner, so that a woman shall not feel negative or be ashamed of her identity as a woman, or of the natural functions of her body.
If a woman (as indeed any individual) feels that she is not being treated equally, she shall have the right to redress, and if it is her wish, to be heard and obtain justice by a Council of Three (Sanhedrin ha-Shalosh).