Let me go back a bit.
Before the weekly parshah shiur began last Tuesday, a member of the shiur mentioned the issue of Women's Kriat Hatorah and said, "Clearly this is where the Modern Orthodox community is going. It will be a normative practice in twenty years, don't you think?"
I didn't think so, and told her so.
"But," she argued, "How are we accomodating the young girls who are looking for an outlet within the Orthodox community? Are we just going to push them away? Because if they don't find what they're looking for within Orthodoxy, they're going to look elsewhere." She later sent me the link to Eden Farber's piece.
I'm not so sure. The problem is, the more we try and accommodate, the more the gulf between Orthodoxy and modern society and its social mores grow increasingly pronounced. Eden herself articulated the problem: They give her the prayer for the State of Israel to recite; they ask her to deliver a dvar Torah. But that's not enough for her. She wants to layn and lead the davening.
On one hand, we cannot ignore the desires of these women; they come from a sense of injustice, and a bewilderment at the gulf between the secular world in which they live and the religious world they inhabit. And, we cannot simply follow a Chareidi perspective and tell them to shut themselves off from that world; that's not my worldview, nor is it a realitstic approach.
But this issue, like so many others, demands a sensitive and careful balance. I absolutely reject Rabbi Farber's demand for a "paradigm shift" away from a paradigm firmly based in halachic precedent. At the same time, we should not marginalize or demonize women who do participate in prayer groups or layn before women. It's not an activity that I'd encourage, but certainly not something I'd condemn either.
Why wouldn't I encourage it? After all, if it's not prohibited, and layning gives women a sense of spiritual fulfillment, why not encourage them to read from the Torah before a group of women? My answer, is to look at the facts on the ground.
While it's never fair to apply a generalization to any specific individual, generalizations are often quite accurate.
And then, if you're still not fulfilled, find a group of like-minded and similarly passionate women to layn with.