|Women of the Wall conduct a women's tefillah service at the Kotel.|
The issue is twofold. Firstly, Orthodox feminist prayer spaces of both styles are primarily defined by "women can't." Women's tefillah is carefully designed to avoid having women lead certain prayers; since women are not considered full halakhic adults, no matter how large the group of women, they cannot say Kaddish, Kedusha, or Barchu, and many groups do not recite the blessings for the reading of the Torah. A great number of these prayer communities rely on a rabbi for halakhic advice; his primary role is to dictate what women may not do in their services. Partnership minyanim allow women to lead certain parts of the service, but not Shacharit or Musaf, the primary components of Shabbat morning tefillah. Women cannot receive the first three aliyot, and while some partnership minyanim wait for ten women and ten men before beginning prayer, women cannot count as part of the ten adults who must be present.
Secondly, Open Orthodoxy is very tentative about the issue of "women must." There is no language of obligation surrounding women's ritual practice; women are permitted and often encouraged to "take on" mitzvot that they are considered exempt from, but the exemption itself is not evaluated. Liberal Orthodox women, as a group, do not wear tallitot or tzitzit or lay tefillin, and are not communally encouraged to. Girls are offered lulavim and etrogim on Succot, but are not required to carry them like their male peers are. This lack of obligation results in a group of committed Jews who are much more inclined to skip a day of shaking lulav, or show up to shul only for kiddush.
The root of these two problems is the failure of Open Orthodoxy to engage with feminism as an absolute moral imperative. When feminism is viewed as a value that can add to a community, that will enhance women's religious and spiritual lives, its key message is weakened. Instead of seeing feminism as a critique of the absolute injustice of treating half of the Jewish people as less than full halakhic adults, feminism is seen as a favor to the female half of the community. As long as feminism is ignored as a moral demand, the Open Orthodox community will not analyze halakha in such a way so as to fully enfranchise women. As long as feminism is viewed as a bonus instead of a basic necessity, Open Orthodoxy is not a truly movement towards women's equality.