I stole this from the Town and Village Synagogue listserve. I used to be a member there and miss the place.
This is a wonderful talk by Batya Miller tracing the history of egalitarianism at T&V. It was presented to the congregation last Shabbat morning, July 18, 2015
Thank you Rabbi Sebert for giving me this opportunity to talk to the congregation today and for all your support and assistance in making this happen. In the course of revisiting a paper I had written in 1996, I spoke to many members who had lived through the story I am about to tell and would like to thank all of them for their help. Among them was Sy Beder who provided me with a joke to start my talk (I had told him that my father, a rabbi started every sermon with a joke to wake up the members). It goes as follows:
“Yeshiva University decided to field a rowing team. They lost race after race. Finally the Rosh Yeshiva decided to send Yankel to spy on the championship Harvard team. So Yankel went to Cambridge and hid in the bushes to watch the Harvard team practice. After two weeks Yankel returned to Yeshiva and announced ‘I have figured out our problem. We should have only one guy shouting and the other eight should row’.” After changing their “tradition,” YU began to win races. This too is a story of how a group of people changed tradition with a very successful outcome.
As difficult as it may be for many of you to believe, there was a time, in the not too distant past, when women did not “count” at T&V, at least not ritually – and politically – speaking. Where would the morning minyan be today if women didn’t count? And what would the bima look like if women did not get aliyot, did not read Torah, and did not assume positions of leadership? (more…)