There is a “silent” revolution taking place in which Haredi women are increasingly taking on more prominent religious leadership roles. One of the main frameworks for these transformations is the field of outreach. The rise of the female outreach activist is an additional manifestation of the ways that Haredi Orthodoxy’s abandonment of sectarian approaches to nonobservant Jews has led to less rigid religious and social norms on the part of members of its core constituency. The new functions taken on by female outreach activists raise conflicts and engender complex hybrid identities that digress in notable ways from accepted notions within this sector.
Interestingly, despite certain parallels with the new positions – such as “spiritual leader” advanced among Modern Orthodox feminists, to date there has been little public criticism by Haredi leaders of the novel figures within their own camp. I suggest two explanations for this seeming passivity. First, while social boundaries have been traversed, the Haredi female initiatives have avoided the area of ritual and prayer. Thus, the public sanctum has not been challenged. Alternatively, the rise of the Haredi female leaders may account in part for the virulent condemnations by Haredi officials of Modern Orthodox feminist initiatives such as partnership minyanim. The main goal of attacking the Modern Orthodox efforts so vigorously, then, is not to dictate Modern Orthodox behavior, but to clarify the limits of “Haredi feminism.”
Adam Ferziger, as quoted in Alan Brill, “Interview with Adam Ferziger – Beyond Sectarianism”, The Book of Doctrines and Opinions: Notes on Jewish Theology and Spirituality (5 August 2015) [https://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/interview-with-adam-ferziger-beyond-sectarianism/]