Shabbat/Holiday meals are really just an excuse for my friends and I to sit around and discuss the major issues in Judaism today. The makeup of the group influences which issues are discussed, and how they should be addressed.
The beginning of the meal was about how painfully long services are on Rosh Hashana, and how it is so unnecessary. At my chosen place of worship the service started at 8am and lasted until 1:15pm. Then immediately following was mincha gedola*. Even still, when I reached the apartment of my friend hosting the meal, only to realize that he was still at prayer. Three of the meal-goers had to stand outside waiting for about half an hour. Meal-hoster, if you are reading this, it is in no way a relection upon your meal-hosting skills.
What followed was a conversation about comparative service length. We all complained about our respective experiences, and then one guy there shared the following tidbit: at KOE (Kehillat Orach Eliezer) comments were made to the effect that "there is a great deal of talk about our new Rosh haKehillah (a position close to that of Rabbi) in the blogosphere. I know that some of you probably keep blogs, or know people who do, so if any of you wanted to post something positive about it, that'd be great."
So I am obliging. I'd like to add the disclaimer that I've never been to KOE but I fully intend to go as part of my shul**-shopping on the Upper West Side. The fact that they chose a woman to be the spiritual leader, and Jewish Law authority for their community makes me only more likely to support it.
To give some background, many "major" Jewish blogs have already posted on the subject. I'll divide them into groups, those with a positive, negative, or neutral reaction.
This post by Dov Bear is positive if you follow the thinking that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
The Post in Cross Currents that Dov Bear found so objectionable.
Another negative post from Cross Currents.
The rather pompously named Emes Ve-Emunah (it means "Truth and Faith") refers to KOE's mechitza (the divider between men and women) as hardly one any traditionally Orthodox Jew would feel comfortable with. Which is problematic, as every Orthodox shul that I've been to has a different mechitza. There are a couple more comments in there that make my blood boil, but I'll leave you with that one.
Dilbert talks about the purpose of classification in Judaism, using the controversy as a jumping-off point.
On The Book, Jonathan Baker claims that the classification of KOE is irrelevant,and that the move to choose a woman is indeed significant for Orthodoxy. He also points out that "That a right-wing Conservative, or UTJ, synagogue had to get a spiritual leader, who by definition would not be a rabbi, from left-wing Modern Orthodox institutions, speaks to the weakness of both: she couldn't find sufficient opportunities among those who had trained her, and KOE couldn't find suitable candidates in their own movement, but had to look beyond their rightward edge."
Hard to categorize:
Hirhurim mostly repeats the statement from UTJ. I agree with UTJ, but not with Gil Student's classification of KOE.
In conclusion: why does everyone care about KOE, but not that the Jewish Center has a female "fellow" paid for with the funds that generally pay for a rabbinic intern?
*Mincha Gedola is the afternoon service, performed at the earliest possible time allowed by traditional calculations, often following the morning service, seperated by just a few minutes.
**Shul is Yiddish for synagogue.