Lady Light posts about the roles of women in Judaism, and about synagogue participation specifically, and sees a door “partially opening”. Ari comments beautifully on the post about how women becoming Rabbis is a step down, and I couldn’t agree more!
Batya comments here on her blog, (the comments here are interesting too) and expresses a lot of my sentiments about the subject.
I am honestly puzzled by some women’s feelings that they are being shunted aside “spiritually” because they cannot lead the services in an Orthodox synagogue. I have always thought that the purpose of going to the synagogue was to pray to G-d. Getting up in front of the synagogue and leading the services is a duty which, in my mind, distracts you from this purpose. Someone who does a good job leading the prayers has a lot to think about, most of which is not about the prayers themselves. You have to make sure that your voice is loud enough for everyone to hear, you have to make sure that you are not going too fast (waiting for the Rav to finish before you go on to the next prayer means being a bit distracted, to say the least!), and if you are musically inclined, thinking of which tunes to use when. Many times I think that the people leading (especially the guests who love to add their own chazzanus) do so because they want to show off – not necessarily because they are “uplifted spiritually” by the exercise. (I must add, though, that most of the men in my yishuv do not do this, and it is sometimes hard to find men who are willing to lead).
Orthodox women are not being held back from coming close to G-d in any way. We are “prevented” from one way in which to “show off”. Personally I think this is to our advantage.