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Aug 2, 1997 - 14:11 -

I have a question:
What Halachic support is there for counting women for purposes of the daily minyan? Thanks for the help. Ed Avadenka

About me: Edward Avadenka, the frustrated conservative father of a daughter , who is a feminist, but who resists counting women for minyan.
My e-mail address:
How I found this site: Searching my question regarding minyin.

Thanks for your question, Ed.

The answer is: none whatsoever.  From a halachic standpoint, your daughter is correct to not permit herself to be counted.  The practice at less traditional Conservative-affiliated synagogues is not based on halachic tradition.  That is why some Conservative-affiliated synagogues still do not do it.

A good introductory book on the halachic theories involved is Women in Jewish Law by Rachel Biale.  A good book for organizing women's prayer groups is Women at Prayer -- A Halachic Analysis of Women's Prayer Groups , by Avram Weiss.  (By "women's prayer groups" I mean services led by women in which uniquely feminine spirituality and halachic norms are both respected.)  For a cogent presentation of the case against Rabbi Weiss's permissive conclusions, see Chapter 5 of Contemporary Halachic Problems, vol. III, by J. David Bleich.  

See also the Conservative movement's own "Tomeikh kaHalacha -- Responsa of the Panel of Halakhic Inquiry, vol. I" edited by Wayne Allen, published 1986.

None of the above find any sources that would permit counting women in a minyan. (It is a popular misnomer to refer to a women's prayer group as a "women's minyan".)

--- Jordan