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Cantor Barbara Ostfeld

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A female cantor walks into a funeral chapel. The funeral director says, “Nice to meet you, Cantor. Turn around and let me see the rear view.”

Rabbis and cantors who are also women hear some version of this from time to time, though less frequently today than 40 years ago. 

Although we’re aware that it’s impossible, many of us try to dress in a way that’s designed to prevent sexist comments. By keeping our necklines high and our hemlines low, by avoiding anything clingy, we work at a calculus that has variables clearly beyond our control. Our sought-after formula usually depends on some perfect calibration of the “female” aspect of the term female clergy and the “clergy” part. If nothing else can, the theory goes, looking HOLY should shut it all down.

From “Sexism Is Routine for Female Clergy” on the Lilith Blog.