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Synagogues/Temples

Julie Rosewald becomes the first woman to lead services in an American synagogue

September 20, 1884

Julie Rosewald became the first woman known to have led services at an American synagogue when she led the music, chanted portions of the worship normally reserved for a cantor, and directed the choir at San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El following the death of the congregation's cantor.

Julie Rosewald: America's first woman cantor

She wrote a book. She was an actress. She sang opera. She became a professor. She toured the world by herself. She paid her own way. She was a musical superstar.

When synagogues downsize, women rabbis are the first to go

Rabbi Charni Flame Selch lost her job when her synagogue, Bnai Emet Synagogue in St. Louis Park, MN, merged with a nearby Minnetonka congregation. A recent article in the Star Tribune suggests that the economic recession is making the road even harder for female rabbis.

Is the shul a place for political activism?

I spent last Friday night celebrating Shabbat at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Mass., a Reform synagogue I’d never before visited. I was in awe of the chapel’s breathtaking, brightly colored stained glass windows, and I was fascinated by Rabbi John Franken’s take on Parshat M’tzora, which drew unexpected parallels between, of all things, skin diseases and marketing (all with a Jewish bent, of course). But it was a bright green insert in the Friday night program that struck me most.

Jewish Disability Awareness Month: What you should know

February is Black History Month. It’s also American Heart Month, International Boost Self-Esteem Month, National Snack Food Month, and Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month. Yes, seriously. But for the Jewish community, this February also marks the 3rd annual Jewish Disability Awareness Month, described as “a unified effort to raise awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide.”

Alysa Stanton, First Black Female Rabbi, Will Leave N.C. Congregation

Alysa Stanton, who made headlines when she became the country’s first black woman rabbi, will be leaving her Greenville, N.C. pulpit — after the congregation that hired her less than two years ago decided not to renew her contract. Stanton said the decision to leave was not hers, and that she fully intends to serve out the duration of her contract, which expires July 31, 2011.

Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis

On a cold New England night, as the first flurries of the season began to fall, members of the Jewish community in Boston piled into the sanctuary at Temple Reyim to kindle the lights of Hanukkah and celebrate four remarkable Jewish women. Sally Priesand, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, 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, in an event cosponsored by the Jewish Women’s Archive, 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.

Carla Furstenberg Cohen, 1936 - 2010

This appeared on the Politics and Prose website shortly after her death.

by Barbara Meade

In the last months of her illness, I chided Carla for abandoning her devoted bookselling community, including me, by dying. I was not only losing a cherished friend, but both a partner and a partnership as well.

Vivian Finkel, 1921 - 2009

I recently learned that Vivian Finkel died last June. She wasn't a great stateswoman, famous entertainer or business mogul. She did, however, help shape the lives of countless Jewish children in Manhattan over the course of more than fifty years. And that counts for a lot, at least in my book.

Betty Lee Hahn, 1932 - 2006

[Denver]…Her friends and family called her "Buz"—something different, unique, one-of-a-kind. Not that Betty Lee Hahn, a pillar of the Jewish community in Denver, Colorado and beyond, needed an out-of-the-ordinary name to stand out.

The story that might paint the best picture of Buz was the one-woman revolt she staged while in college at University of Texas. It wasn't uncommon at a place like that, and in a time like the '50s, for a sorority girl to be expected to wear certain kinds of clothes and avoid certain others.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Synagogues/Temples." (Viewed on May 23, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/synagoguestemples>.

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