Jane Evans

1907–2004

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Jane Evans until we are able to commission a full entry.

Although she never became a rabbi, Jane Evans, Executive Director of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, became a powerful voice for women’s ordination within the Reform Movement. Evans, who had been the decorating director for St. Louis’s largest department store, became the first full-time head of NFTS in 1933. A skilled equestrian, she joked that she could as easily have joined the circus, but spent the next forty years wrangling committees instead. She pioneered Judaica shops in temples as a way to teach congregants how to use ritual objects at home, and oversaw the Union of Reform Judaism’s move from Cincinnati to New York. More importantly, she directed NFTS to pass resolutions protesting child labor and promoting civil rights and access to birth control, raising awareness of social issues throughout the Reform movement. In 1957 she spoke at the URJ convention, urging the Reform movement to allow women’s ordination. While she was unsuccessful at that time, she continued pushing for a resolution in favor of women rabbis, laying the groundwork for 1972 ordination of Sally Priesand. Evans retired in 1976 but remained involved with NFTS until her death.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jane Evans." (Viewed on May 21, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/evans-jane>.