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Shira Hadasha

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Title: Shira Hadasha  
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Subject: Jewish feminism, Mendel Shapiro, Joel B. Wolowelsky, Synagogues in Jerusalem, Modern Orthodox Judaism
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Shira Hadasha

Kehillat Shira Hadasha (שירה חדשה "new song") is a Jewish congregation in Jerusalem, founded in 2002 by a group of local residents, including Tova Hartman. Its website describes its purpose as the creation of "a religious community that embraces our commitment to halakha, tefillah and feminism" in response to "the growing need of many religious women and men to readdress the role of women in the synagogue." [1]

It was the first Jewish congregation to implement an opinion by Modern Orthodox Rabbi Mendel Shapiro,[2] who holds B.A. and M.S. degrees from Yeshiva University and a J.D. from Columbia University, received his smikhah (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshiva University, and now practices law in Jerusalem. In his Halakhic (Jewish law) analysis, entitled "Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis," he calls upon those times throughout our history when women have received aliyyot to (have been called up to) and have read from the Torah in communal services with men and women present, and carefully examines the circumstances in which this took place. His position and conclusions have subsequently been supported and expanded upon by Rabbi Doctor Daniel Sperber [3] (Professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University, rabbi of Congregation Menachem Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem, and halakhic adviser to Darkhei Noam Congregation in Manhattan starting in 2006) in his article entitled "Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading." He, too, delves into specific cases when Jewish law permitted and sometimes even required women to be called to and read from the Torah on Shabbat in services with men present. Hence the first Partnership Minyan.

The congregation combines a traditional liturgy with certain prayer leadership opportunities for women, including Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday nights; and Pesukei DeZimra, removing and replacing the Torah in the Ark, and Torah reading on Saturday mornings. A mechitza separating men and women runs down the middle of the room.

Parts of the service requiring a minyan do not begin until both 10 men and 10 women are present. Shira Hadasha's prayer service format has been copied by around 20 congregations in Israel, the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.


A number of Orthodox rabbis have publicly disagreed with Shira Hadasha's mode of worship. Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan and a prominent religious Zionist rabbi, has ruled that “people should not pray in this synagogue.” Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba has stated that “anyone who is truly God-fearing will not join in such a minyan since this is how the breaking of Jewish tradition begins. Today they do this, and in the future the result will be women and men praying completely together.” [4] Rabbi Gil Student has also weighed in against the practice,[5] as have rabbis Aryeh and Dov Frimer, who wrote that "these practices are a radical break from the ritual of millennia and have not received the approval of any major posek."[6]

See also


  1. ^ Website of Kehillat Shira Hadasha ("original website")
  2. ^ Mendel Shapiro, "Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis" (Edah 1:2, 2001) (pdf)
  3. ^ Daniel Sperber, "Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading” (Edah 3:2, 2002) (pdf)
  4. ^ "Battle over women's right to pray", Y-Net News, August 14, 2006
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Frimer, Aryeh A.; Frimer, Dov I. (May 23, 2010). "Partnership Minyanim". Text & Texture. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 


  • Ross, Tamar. Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. Brandeis University Press, 2004, pp. 97–98; 179-183. ISBN 978-1-58465-390-5
  • Barbera Sofer, "The Human Spirit: Who's afraid of Shira Hadasha?" The Jerusalem Post, February 1, 2007

External links

  • Shira Hadasha website
  • Information about Shira Hadasha style prayer groups
  • Shira Hadasha Melbourne
  • JOFA partnership minyanim (with minyan links list)
  • JOFA Mixed Torah Reading Articles

Further reading

  • Gidon Rothstein, "Women’s Aliyyot in Contemporary Synagogues." Tradition 39:2, Summer 2005.
  • Eliav Shochetman. Sinay 135-136 (2005), pp.271-336
  • Tova Hartman, Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism: Resistance and Accommodation. Brandeis University Press, 2007. ISBN 1-58465-658-1.
  • Alan Haber, "Egalitarian minyanim? Not authentic. Not Orthodox", The Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2008.
  • Jessica Ravitz, "An Orthodox Feminist Revolutionary", Moment, January/February 2009.

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