Religion Magazine

Women Soon to Tbe Allowed to Take Semicha Tests, but Not for Semicha

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Six+ years ago a group of women asked to be granted the right to take the Rabbanut tests for semicha. They said they were not seeking semicha certification, but wanted to be able to take the tests to confirm their knowledge.
A little over a year ago a group of women and some organizations petitioned the Supreme Court to force the Rabbanut to let women take the tests - nothing about granting certification for semicha, just take the tests. Rabbanut legal counsel then said that it supports letting the women take the tests and recommended alternate tracks be established for testing women.
It seems that the women also argued that testing only men is discriminatory, as the certification of the Rabbanut qualifies men for higher salaries in State-paid positions, and is also accredited as a BA equivalent, qualifying holders for positions unavailable to the women. Thus, they explain, the testing of men only is discriminatory.
According to JPost, the State's Attorney's office has said that the AG, Avihai Mandelblit, has decided to grant the request and is setting in motion the establishment of an alternate track of testing for women and to grant women accreditation. The State's Attorney's office has requested an exemption from the Supreme Court in order to put the new system in place.
It seems the track for women will not be through the Chief Rabbinate but will likely be through either the Education Ministry or the [new] Ministry of Higher Education, though it will be i coordination with the Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Affairs. This alternate track will be available to women and to men who are not interested in serving as Rabbinate rabbis. Anyone passing these exams successfully will qualify for jobs and financial benefits the same way those who pass the Rabbanut exams do.
source: Kipa
To that end, Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Yosef, has said that he opposes any form of rabbinic testing of women and that the Rabbanut is not an institution of higher education. The tole of the Chief Rabbinate is to train people and prepare them to be rabbis. He instructed the professionals involved in the Chief Rabbinate to oppose this as tradition and halacha do not allow training women for the rabbinate. Rav Yosef threatened that if women are allowed to take the exams, he will ban the Rabbanut tests entirely and not allow them to be held.
source: Behadrei, Kikar
I dont know if there is a misunderstanding, but it seems like the idea of taking it out of the hands of the Rabbanut and putting it under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education should have solved Rabbi Yosef's problem. By doing that, the test testing can be seen as academic in nature and not rabbinic.
Personally I do not see how the next step cannot be, certify us similarly to rabbis, with a different name, and of course not for jobs as rabbis but for personal affirmation and salaries as teachers, etc.
I don't know what halacha prevents women from being tested in halachic knowledge. Tradition does, I guess, but that is the tradition the women are fighting - the tradition controlled by men. I know we dont allow female rabbis and the like, but that is different than testing women in their knowledge of halacha. Even the State's Attorney's office is saying test them and give them accreditation but they are not saying to call them rabbis.
This legal stuff causes so many problems with religion, and a lot of it would likely be solved by the separation of Shul and State (though other problems might be caused).
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