For better or for worse, men like their boy’s clubs. They’re attracted to environments and experiences that are inherently male. Put a woman at the helm of a synagogue and you’ll probably see what I’ve witnessed after teaching at Conservative Sunday schools and at the occasional Hillel I’ve passed through—a few good, sensitive men coupled with lots of spiritual-seeking women. Whether it’s from mere discomfort around women or buried chauvinism, the reality is that most men relate best to male leaders. It takes a rare man who can sit at the feet of a woman scholar to drink in her wisdom.
While you can legitimately argue that women shouldn’t be limited in their leadership potential simply because men like to hang out together, I don’t think that men should be written out of the religious sphere either, which is likely to happen once women enter the rabbinate. Judaism can’t afford the disengagement of Orthodox Jewish men as has been seen in the decreasing involvement of Conservative and Reform men (read “The Diminishing Role of Jewish Men in Jewish Life” for more on this issue). This same phenomenon has been echoed in professions, such as teaching and even psychology, where women are more likely to predominate. But the world is not going to suffer from a plethora of qualified female psychologists or teachers, or doctors or lawyers. And men can always be encouraged back to careers with financial incentives and good job opportunities, if needed. But religion doesn’t have the same financial incentive that careers do, making it a more vulnerable system. And it’s also more vital and central to our lives. So if men need this to be a boy’s club to participate, then I say go ahead and claim it.
Rachel Wizenfeld, “Why I’m OK Staying Out of The ‘Orthodox Boys’ Club'”, The Sisterhood (21 August 2015) [http://forward.com/sisterhood/319559/why-im-ok-staying-out-of-the-orthodox-boys-club/]