You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Religious Movements

Tamara Cohen

Tamara Cohen is a Jewish feminist writer, activist and educator. She currently works as the Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs at the University of Florida and the once-a-month Spiritual Leader of the Greater Washington Connecticut Coalition for Jewish Life.

Nina Beth Cardin

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin is the Director of Jewish Life at the JCC of Greater Baltimore. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1988, Rabbi Cardin then served the Seminary in numerous capacities, including Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Special Assistant to the Chancellor and Visiting Lecturer in Theology. Rabbi Cardin is also Editor of Sh'ma: a journal of Jewish responsibility.

More Than Just The Celebration of One Woman: Rabbi Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl

Usually, I’m a bit of a skeptic about the transformative power of women’s leadership. I don’t believe a woman in a position of power will necessarily create meaningful social change. I’m a little weary of celebrating “firsts” for women. I’m impatient and demanding and all the things feminists need to be if we’re going to change the world for more than an elite few. 

And then there are moments when I feel the momentum rumbling beneath my feet and cynicism is nowhere to be found. Today I had one of those moments when I heard that Rabbi Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl has been chosen as the next Senior Rabbi at Central Synagogue, a prominent and powerful Reform congregation in New York City.

Elissa Froman, 1983 - 2013

There are so many stories about Elissa Froman.

One of her closest friends, Emily Goodstein, tells of the time she and Froman were walking down a street in Washington, D.C., where they both lived. A homeless man who sat asking for change in front of a restaurant stopped them, addressing Elissa by name. He thanked her for making an appointment for him at a local healthcare clinic.

A favorite one that her mother, Gloria, relates: When Elissa was four years old, she asked, “Are we really alive, or is G-d dreaming us?”

But Why Do They Have to be Rabbis?

Although my friends usually come into the conversation unable to comprehend why nice, Orthodox girls would want to enter the rabbinate, I certainly hope they leave the discussion slightly more enlightened. They don’t have to agree with me at the end of the day; Judaism is very fluid, and no two people must come to the same conclusion regarding the interpretation of halakha. I just hope they can understand why women like the recent Yeshivat Maharat graduates may want to choose the rabbinate or a religious leadership role.

Maharats, Misogyny and Marching On

It was a late spring-time graduation unlike any other, a landmark event in Jewish history.  On June 16th, at the Ramaz School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, for the first time ever, with the bestowal of a parchment and the recitation of a specially chosen biblical phrase, three women became spiritual leaders and legal authorities within Orthodox Jewry: Our sister, may you become a multitude. (Genesis 24:60).

We Begin to Become a Multitude

This was the first time that Orthodox women were ordained in an institutional setting. There was a profound sense that not only was this a big moment for the three women getting ordained, but also for the men who trained them. I could hear the pride in Rabbi Jeffrey Fox, the Rosh HaYeshiva’s voice, and how much this meant to Rabbi Avi Weiss. In particular, Rabbi Weiss emphasized the desire to give a professionally recognized title to these women (even if it is Maharat, rather than Rabba), and the absolute necessity of the support of the male rabbis who have welcomed these women into their congregations. For Rabba Sara, I had the profound sense that she was creating an exciting new cohort of colleagues for herself. It’s one thing to be a groundbreaker, but totally another to bring others along with you, to create a system and a path for future generations. 

Learn to Do Good, Seek Justice, Relieve the Oppressed

I’m not sure when I realized that the true Torah value is inclusion and acceptance of our LGBT+ brethren. Perhaps it was because my mom became close friends with a gay man who’s very active in gay social life. Maybe it was because of my increased involvement in feminism; after all, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist organization in the US (of which I am a member), lists lesbian rights as one of its top priority issues. Or maybe it was just maturity. Whatever the reason and whenever it actually happened, I began to support gay rights, both within and without the Jewish community.

Meet “Bulletproof Stockings” and “Yiddish Princess”

Today we feature female American Jewish musicians who aren’t softly crooning classic Hebrew folk songs, traditional prayers, or even hava nagila. They are not belting out Broadway tunes or love songs à la Barbra Streisand or Bette Midler. These women are rocking out to their own beat.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Religious Movements." (Viewed on December 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/religious-movements>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs