Judaism-Reconstructionist

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Joy Levitt

Rabbi Joy Levitt earned high honors as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), then continued to shape the movement after her term’s end, through her inclusive approach to both prayer and politics.

Joy Levitt

Rabbi Joy Levitt helped shape the Reconstructionist movement as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA).

Deborah Waxman

In 2014, Rabbi Deborah Waxman became the first woman (and first lesbian) to simultaneously lead both a seminary and a congregational organization as head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities.

Mordecai Kaplan

The founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordecai Kaplan struck a fundamental blow for women’s participation in Jewish ritual with the bat mitzvah of his eldest daughter, Judith.

Sandy Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was the first woman rabbi ordained by the Reconstructionist movement, which was one of many firsts in her career.

Ruth F. Brin

Ruth F. Brin helped transform modern prayer with her evocative writing, translation, and poetry.

Bonnie Koppell

One of the first women rabbis ordained, Bonnie Koppell became the first woman rabbi to serve as a US military chaplain.

Judith Kaplan Eisenstein

The first American girl to publically celebrate a bat mitzvah, Judith Kaplan Eisenstein went on to become a Jewish educator, composer, and musicologist.

Lori Lefkovitz

Lori Lefkovitz founded the first-ever women’s studies department at a rabbinical school and helped create Ritualwell.org, a communal source for inclusive, innovative Jewish ritual and prayer.

Sharon Kleinbaum

Sharon Kleinbaum’s longtime leadership of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and her outspoken activism have made her a powerful voice for GLBTQ rights and human rights in America and around the world.

Tamara Cohen

Tamara Cohen’s work with the Jewish Women’s Archive and Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project helped popularize lesser-known heroines of Jewish history and new feminist rituals such as making Miriam’s Cup part of the Passover Seder.

Shulamit Izen

After realizing at an early age that she was a lesbian, Shulamit Izen devoted herself to creating a supportive environment for Jewish GLBTQ teens.

Lori Lefkovitz

This stone symbolizes for me the loving feminist reclamation of our great grandmothers' folkways.

Sharon Kleinbaum

I never wanted to simply be a female rabbi. I want to be a part of a Judaism that is transformed by feminism.

Bernice W. Kliman, 1933 - 2011

She found that her feminism conflicted with the synagogue practice of denying women a place on the bimah. Only later did she [find] a sympathetic rabbi and a group of congregants who also believed in women’s equality.

Shulamis Yelin, 1913 - 2002

Shulamis's commanding voice filled up the cluttered apartment and I could see how much she loved an audience. It hardly mattered if I was one woman in her kitchen, or a group of children on a frozen plain, or a gathering of old Yiddishists downtown. She was holding court, spinning tales, imparting wisdom.

First Torah commissioned to be scribed entirely by women is read in Seattle

October 16, 2010

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.

Celebrating Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, the first woman Reconstructionalist rabbi

by  Leah Berkenwald

Thirty-six years ago today, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was ordained as the first female Reconstructionist rabbi by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia on May 19, 1974.

JTS Faculty Senate votes to admit women

October 24, 1983

Following a lengthy and intense debate within the Conservative movement, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) faculty senate, on October 24, 1983, voted 34-8 to admit women to the JTS Rabbinical S

Aviel Barclay becomes first female Torah scribe

October 6, 2003

On October 6, 2003, Aviel Barclay became the first certified Soferet, or female Torah scribe.

Congregation appoints first woman to serve as senior rabbi

August 1, 1979

Reconstructionist rabbi Linda Joy Holtzman was appointed the spiritual leader of Beth Israel Congregation in Coatesville, PA, on August 1, 1979.

Sandy Sasso ordained as first female Reconstructionist rabbi

May 19, 1974

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first female Reconstructionist rabbi when she was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia, on May 19, 1974.

Judith Kaplan celebrates first American Bat Mitzvah ceremony

March 18, 1922

Judith Kaplan, at age 12, became the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922.

Bertha Singer Schoolman

Like her friend and mentor Henrietta Szold Bertha Schoolman gave a lifetime of service to the betterment of Jewish education and to the cause of Youth Aliyah, the movement to bring Jewish youth out of Germany to live in children’s villages in Israel.

Reconstructionist Judaism in the United States

The term “Reconstructionism” comes from his notion that Judaism should neither be reformed nor conserved, but reconstructed.

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