Girls are leading Morning Blessings in the Main Minyan

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By Rose Bern, Community Editor

For the past year, girls have been leading the Birkot Hashachar, or Morning Blessings, in the main minyan in the Beit Midrash. Former Judaic Studies principal Rabbi Ari Leubitz quietly instituted this tradition a year ago and the current administration continues to support it.

“We instituted it last year for the girls to take the lead for Birkot Hashachar while the boys put on tefillin,” wrote Director of Judaic Studies Noam Weissman in an e-mail to the Boiling Point.

Prior to this, girls never led any prayers in the Main Minyan. Mr. Weissman says that there was no particular reason.

“Sometimes people don’t do things because that’s not the way it’s been done,” he said during a phone interview.

And he added that the girls are not violating any Halacha, Jewish law, because they are technically still not leading prayers.

“Girls are not leading the prayer, they say it from their side while the boys are putting on tefillin,” Mr. Weissman said. “Girls do not go to the bima, the girls are just being productive.”

He said formal tefila, or prayer, really begins with Baruch She’mar, which comes after Birkot Hashachar.

Still, girls feel they are leading something, and some are very happy about it. Sophomore Rachel Spronz says she fully supports the administration’s choice.

“Gender equality is important and something that Shalhevet really supports,” Rachel said. “While girls are not allowed to lead davening, letting us lead Birkot Hashachar allows us to still participate in the service.”

But her view is not unanimous.

Junior Aviva Prins leads the prayer herself sometimes, but doesn’t like the way it’s been going.  She said boys are putting on their tefillin and girls are getting their siddurs, and she fears no one hears the blessings.

“It would be better for one chazzan to do it,” Aviva said, “because it would be one clear voice yelling over everyone.”

The boys in the Main Minyan also have varied views.

“I’m uncomfortable with it because it broke free from tradition,” said sophomore Tom Amzalag.

Freshman Mati Davis disagrees.

“While I might not agree with it, I support it,” said Mati Davis. “Girls in high school have a hard time participating in tefila. Allowing them to lead a small part allows them to participate more.”

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