Controversy was created recently when congregation Etz Jacob became one of the first Orthodox synagogues in California to hire a female clergy member. Michelle Lerner, while not ordained as a Rabbi, will be titled “Morateinu” translated as “Our Teacher”.
The controversy is not so much in Lerner’s hiring, as other Orthodox synagogues have also hired women clergy, but in Lerner’s looks. She is a stone cold ten by anyone’s standard. Nineteen-year-old Josh Blum stated, “She can teach me any time!” Asked what he’d like her to teach him, he said, “Whatever!” Lerner has a Masters in Education from Harvard and a PHD in religion from Yale Divinity School, as well as numerous academic achievements from various seminaries. She has participated in Daf Yomi, learning a page of Talmud every day for the last seven years, completing the full cycle, yet it is her looks that have garnished much attention.
Rabbi Ari Gross defended the hiring. “We based Morateinu Lerner’s hiring on her excellent academic achievements and her vast knowledge of Judaism. Looks had nothing to do with it… even though she is smoking hot.”
Married couple David and Marina Krinsky had mixed feelings about the hiring, David being more positive. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her speak… uh hearing her speak, you know what I mean.” Marina, while glaring at her husband, had this to say, “My husband is an embarrassment, and I’m sure she’s very smart blah blah blah.”
Longtime member, eighty three year old Irving Waxman, while acknowledging Lerner’s good looks, also felt the focus should be on her intelligence and oratory skills. “She’s got a nice punim, no question, but Abe and the other guys in the Men’s Club say she’s also got some saichel!”
Whether Lerner’s looks will be a distraction is still up for debate, but obviously most feel she should be judged on her performance as a clergy member. In the meantime, Lerner will be teaching a Talmud class every Wednesday night and attendance is totally full. All the participants are male, clearly showing that Etz Jacob has come a long way in it’s tolerance of women clergy.