Sexual harassment of women in many professions has gained intense public scrutiny in recent weeks. Women rabbis are among those affected — and their position as religious leaders sometimes makes them particular targets. In a January 24th article in the Jewish Exponent, Barbara Breitman, assistant professor of pastoral counseling at RRC, sheds light on the phenomenon. “When the power invested in a rabbi is embodied by a woman, some people are still very uncomfortable with that and behave in ways that, consciously or unconsciously, are efforts to reduce their power. One way of doing that is to relate to her like a sex object instead of like a Jewish spiritual leader and teacher.”
Rabbi David Teutsch, who co-teaches an RRC class in ethical boundaries with Breitman, stresses that sexual harrassment is best handled not on a case-by-case basis, but by confronting the cultural norms that underlie harassment — and by creating and enforcing strong policies in Jewish organizations.
The full article is available here: Female Rabbis Contend Sexual Harrassment Persists