The Top 10 Moments for Jewish Women in 2010

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I am one of those retrospective people who loves to reflect and analyze the events of the past 12 months at the end of each calendar year. So this weekend, while snowed in at my parents' home in western Massachusetts, I set out to answer this: What were the top 10 moments for Jewish women in 2010?

10. The "first lights" of women rabbis came together to light the Hanukkah candles


Sally Priesand
, Amy Eilberg, and Sara Hurwitz, the first-ordained North American Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative women rabbis and Open Orthodox rabba, respectively, gathered together for the first time to light the Hanukkah candles, to share their inspirational stories, to celebrate the progress that has been made across the Jewish movements, and to discuss what still needs to be done.
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9. Keshet's Pledge to Save Lives

Keshet led the Jewish community in response to a wave of bullying that drove a number of youths to suicide this year. The pledge is a commitment to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities, and a promise to speak out when anyone is demeaned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. There are currently over 10,000 signatures on Keshet's online pledge.
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8. Jennifer Gorovitz became first female CEO of a major Jewish federation

After nearly eight months in an interim leadership role, Jennifer Gorovitz was named Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation, which ranks among the 20 largest Jewish federations in North America. While women make up 75% of American federation staffs, Gorovitz was the first woman to head a major one.
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7. We celebrated Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House

Jewish women were definitely front and center at the first ever White House reception marking Jewish American Heritage month. Appropriately so, since it was a woman – Representative Deborah Wasserman Schultz – who spearheaded the Congressional campaign to establish Jewish American Heritage month. It was another woman – Marcia Zerivitz, who put the bug in Wasserman Schultz’ ear; and yet another woman, Abby Schwartz, who, as National Coordinator of the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition, has worked tirelessly to turn a proclamation into a broad based local, regional and national celebration.
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6. Jaimy Gordon wins the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction

Despite competition from better known writers including Peter Carey and Nicole Krauss, the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction went to Jaimy Gordon. The Baltimore-born author’s fourth novel, Lord of Misrule, introduces the reader to the fierce world of low stakes horseracing and the vibrant, gritty band of characters, including a down-and-out horseman and his gutsy but troubled girlfriend, who frequent the racetrack.
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5. JWA puts Jewish women "On the Map"

"There exists no guide to physical landmarks in Jewish women's history--until now." In March of this year, the Jewish Women's Archive launched a user-generated map that showcases significant places in Jewish women’s history, including sites both marked and unmarked, familiar and obscure. Through this crowdsourcing initiative, we are each empowered to become our own historians, mapping history as we discover and create it. Since its launch, more than 150 landmarks have been put on the map. The project continues to grow as more and more Jewish women's stories are put "On the Map."
Explore the map >>

4. Sara Hurwitz goes from Maharat to Rabba

In 2009, Sara Hurwitz completed the required course of study become a spiritual leader in the Orthodox community. She was given the title of "Maharat," which means “Leader in Halakha [Law], Spirituality and Torah.” But the title was unfamiliar and didn't stick and in 2010, her mentor Rabbi Weiss announced that she would be adopting the title of "Rabba," a term chosen by participants at Kolech Religious Women’s Forum Conference in Jerusalem. Soon after, the head of Agudath Israel, the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) denominational body in the United States, opposed the use of the title and to compromise, Rabbi Weiss agreed not to confer it on any other women. Sara Hurwitz still uses the title. This incident has brought the issue of gender equality and the ordination of women in Orthodox Judaism to the fore.
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3. The first Torah commissioned to be scribed entirely by women is read in Seattle

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On October 16, 2010, the Kadima Reconstructionist Jewish Community in Seattle read from the first Torah ever commissioned to be written by a group of women. In 2000, members of Kadima, who had used borrowed Torahs for 25 years, set out to purchase one of their own. A rabbi in the congregation suggested that Kadima take a bold step: commission women — and only women — to create a scroll for the community. Thus began what came to be called the Women’s Torah Project.
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2. Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall, is arrested

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The world was watching as Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall, was arrested and interrogated by police, fingerprinted, and told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at the Western Wall. Women of the Wall is a group of women who have asserted women’s right to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This year, they have endured a great deal of abuse from Orthodox men who do not recognize their right to hold services at the Wall, culminating in Hoffman's arrest. American Jewish women rallied behind Women of the Wall, participating in a protest project to collect photos of women reading Torah.
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1. Elena Kagan is confirmed as Supreme Court Justice

The Jewish community was thrilled as President Obama officially nominated Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. During her confirmation hearings, we were delighted to read her Bat Mitzvah story and watch her joke about eating Chinese food on Christmas. She was confirmed August 5, 2010, and joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second Jewish woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
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