This may not be all that new though
The Beit Hillel national-religious rabbinical association issued a ruling on Sunday permitting and encouraging women to dance with Torah scrolls on the upcoming holiday of Simhat Torah which falls on Wednesday night and Thursday this week.
The festival celebrates the completion of the annual cycle of reading the the Torah, or the first Five Books of Moses, and synagogues take out the Torah scrolls for the members of the congregations to dance with.
Although Conservative and Reform Jewish denominations have long allowed women to fully participate in ceremonies and parts of the prayer services involving the Torah, such practices are generally not approved under Orthodox Jewish law.
In non-Orthodox practice, women may read from the Torah, get called up to the Torah and dance with the Torah on Simhat Torah, but even dancing with the Torah in Orthodox communities is controversial and many communities and rabbis do not permit it.
Well mine does to some extent - at least a year ago, some of the women in my neighborhood synagogue certainly hoisted a Torah scroll around in the hallway.
However, Beit Hillel, a liberally inclined national-religious group, said women who so desired should be included in all the celebrations.
“In our generation, many women are active partners in prayers and [Torah] classes as they are in other parts of community life,” the organization wrote in a halachic ruling posted on its website.
“If women’s participation on Simhat Torah amounts to watching from the women’s section or arranging the tables for kiddush then this is regrettable. In a place where it is important to be partners in Simhat Torah [celebrations], communities should examine the possibility to include them in a variety of ways.
While it isn't all that new to me in a modern era that women are participating, Hillel is doing a good deed speaking in favor of women participating in the celebrations during Orthodox ceremonies.
Labels: Israel, Judaism