I don’t know too much about Jewish services, but I do believe that the people (men and women were separated) sang and prayed. So women were not exactly “silent”. Now, going on to what was done–the Torah was read by the rabbi, I believe. (Of course, we have women rabbis too now in both Reform and Conservative Judaism).
Now, we have the apostles preaching at the time Paul wrote. We also hear (in Acts, for example) that there were women deacons, women helping out (like Dorcas and Priscilla). We also know that there were some JEWISH women (not anti-Semite, but solely relating to the specific examples of women Paul met in a specific time frame) who spoke AGAINST the apostle, and against Christ and Christian teachings, and roused the cities and towns against Christians. So, for Paul, persecuted as he was, a Jew who lived in a patriarchical society where men and ONLY men were involved in preaching or scriptural activity, and himself being a celibate male, and suffering from physical affilictions, is writing in ONE scriptural letter (to a specific group of people) that “women should not speak in church”. Is Paul speaking for all time here, or is he speaking to one group which has had trouble with perhaps some women there speaking AGAINST the church? Remember, Paul isn’t saying, “Christ doesn’t permit women to speak” but “I–meaning Paul–do not allow women to speak”. In the society Paul lived, women would not be EXPECTED to speak out, and if they DID, would be fomenting trouble. Remember, Paul also told people to be KIND to their slaves. . .he didn’t tell them to “end slavery now!”
He also said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free man, woman nor man, but ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.”
Remember, context is important, prayer is important, and above all, we as Catholics have (ta da!) the MAGESTERIUM. If it is OK with our Pope and bishops that women read as lectors, then guess what, say howdy, it is OK with me. I trust that my Church, instituted by God, will be kept free of error in doctrine. It is not the women being LECTORS that is a problem (as it is not a problem that women and men can be EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS OF HOLY COMMUNION) but what INDIVIDUAL men AND women can do to ABUSE their office that would pose any problems.
IMO. And speaking as a woman who first became a lector at age 15. Though I have chosen not to be a lector in the past decade, it is not because I feel that women speaking in church is WRONG. Rather, I feel I have served my turn and I encourage others to serve God–whether it’s as a lector, in the altar guild, or above all by participating in the Mass every Sunday as a member of the congregation of the faithful.