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Shining the spotlight on women rabbis


BY: Alan Goch • Opinion

Published Jewish Journal Newsletter: 3/19/2018

In the Jewish world, Women's History Month is an ideal time to shine the spotlight on the emergence of women rabbis in today's society.

Women who have chosen to make the rabbinate their life's work are becoming more commonplace these days, including many serving South Florida's congregations, but the struggle for equality in a profession that has always been male-dominated has had a slow and challenging ascent to the pulpit.

Prior to 1972, only one woman had ever been ordained as a rabbi, and that was back in the 1930s. Regina Jonas was decreed privately, and served as a chaplain before perishing at Auschwitz in 1944.

About four decades after Jonas' appointment, Sally Jane Priesand made history when she became the first women in the U.S. to be ordained by a rabbinical seminary. Her quest for ordination was met with opposition by fellow students and teachers, but ultimately she proved her doubters wrong and became a role model for today's women spiritual leaders.

Although the rabbinate has welcomed women for only a relatively short period of time, their impact on the Jewish community has been profound, as women's presence in synagogue life has moved beyond sisterhoods and organizational meetings.

Rabbi Marci Bloch, senior rabbi at Temple Beth Orr in Coral Springs, is an example of the progress of her gender in the rabbinical world.

"I hope I am a model of living Jewish values, that I might inspire others to embody the highest of our Jewish ethical principles, to love others and to help repair our world," said Bloch.

Women's full inclusion in Judaism, as well as the global community, needs to be celebrated everyday, and not just during a month, day or week designated to recognize them.

Copyright © 2018, Jewish Journal

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