I just posted a comment on Mirty's page regarding women and shul. Her article was about the politics of a shul regarding the various practices and I agree with her. I often wonder why people can't just show up, pray, and do the mitzvos. I wonder about the spiritual value for all the other chazonnis (cantorial productions), speeches, and the wasting of time with kovod (honors) given to the members so that they will give tzedakka. If I want to give tzedakka, I usually just give it. My opinion is that we should just pray, serve Hashem, and get it all over with.
Anyway, the topic of her post was about kovod from a woman's point of view. I wrote a comment saying that it is nice for women to be at shul, but it might be a confusion of a woman's role to think that they have the obligation to actually be in shul. When a woman is not in shul during a mitzvah, the husband or father is supposed to come home and do the mitzvah (i.e. blowing the shofar) at home for his wife and children. This whole idea of women comming to shul and wanting aliyas and making their own services as a response to the men's services seems to me to be a bit confused because I never learned a source that would give women the idea that they should do so. I do think women getting together to pray is admirable, yet the idea of a minyan (ten men together praying so that the shechina will dwell upon them) has to do specifically with ten men; women are not mentioned in the definition nor in the interpretations. I would say perhaps this is based on a male-based control over the religion, but women also have a very important role in Judaism. Rabbi Manis Friedman goes deep into the power of women in his lecture series. As far as I know, ten women together davening don't form a minyan. And women laining (reading the Torah) and getting aliyahs is not the way things are; I'd posit perhaps the Shulchan Auruch (Code of Jewish Law) is wrong, but good luck changing that one -- every Jew accepts the Shulchan Auruch, even women. It feels to me that there is a confusion of the roles here with Jewish women and shuls, and it's probably the men's fault for not having a proper Jewish atmosphere at home. My comment to Mirty is below. [I came back to this post a few hours later and I realized how offensive this post is. I don't mean what I said to be interpreted as chauvenistic; I'm just trying to communicate what I learned in a simple and direct way.]
I hope it is not offensive for me saying this, but I learned a while ago that women doing the shul thing is a confusion of their roles. Women are superior to men in many ways, one of which is kedusha. Men are required to pray three times a day, plus some. Women don't have such a stringent requirement.
In many orthodox shuls, women don't even come to shul. The thought that "Judaism is in the shul" is an American concept which from what I've learned is a confusion of the idea that "one should make one's home a bayis hamikdash." The holiness is in the home -- not barefoot and pregnant, but the domain of a man is the shul and the domain of a woman is the home. There is no stigma to either. I see it as a very honorable thing. Are you angry at me for saying this?
Again, women davening is an honorable thing. They have the obligation to daven. However, doing all the activities that men are supposed to do seems to me to be a confusion of the gender roles.
Everyone, have an easy fast. G'mar chasima tova. -Zoe