40 Years of Women on the Bimah

Celebrating 40 Years of Women on the Bimah

Each month, the Reform Movement spotlights a theme across our online presence, especially here on this blog. This month’s theme is “40 Years of Women on the Bimah,” leading up the 40th anniversary of Rabbi Sally Priesand’s historic ordination as the first female rabbi in the United States. Through May, we’ll be highlighting voices of rabbis, cantors, educators, community leaders, and congregants talking about what the role of women in Reform Judaism means to them. You’ll recognize these pieces because each will include the badge to the right, an image of Rabbi Priesand carrying the Torah.

We hope you’ll join in our celebration of women! You can do this by commenting on blog posts, engaging in conversation with us on Twitter at @URJ and using the hashtag #JewishWoman, and posting your own photos and anecdotes about Jewish women on our Facebook wall. We’ll use all three of these mediums to spotlight the voices of Jewish men and women who celebrate women’s contributions to the Reform Movement – and we sincerely hope you’ll join us.

To kick off “40 Years of Women on the Bimah,” we’ve rounded up a few of the best and most relevant links on women in the rabbinate and beyond.

  • In 1957, Jane Evans spoke to 1,000 delegates in favor of ordaining women rabbis at a Biennial general assembly meeting of the URJ, then the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
  • Cantor Barbara J. Ostfeld was the first woman invested as cantor by the now Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in June 1975. Cantor Ostfeld will officially retire in her 37th year in the cantorate this June.
  • Established in 1913, WRJ now represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups in North America and around the world. Celebrating their Centennial in 2013, WRJ will host a variety of special events. Check out their Centennial Kick-Off Video!
  • Fom the new blog of Women for Reform Judaism, Lindie Henderson discusses the importance and benefits of taking on Sisterhood leadership roles and asks others to rise to the occasion in “Choosing to Lead.”
  • The Israel Religious Action Center’s Anat Hoffman requests that we all sign a letter to give to Christiane Amanpour, who will interview Hoffman about gender segregation in Israel on her show this week. The letter asks Amanpour to put pressure on Israeli decision makers to no longer tolerate gender discrimination.
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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.

8 Responses to “Celebrating 40 Years of Women on the Bimah”

  1. avatar

    And please don’t forget the Womens’ Rabbinic Network, the professional association of Reform Women Rabbis established in the 1970s to promote the personal and professional growth of all women rabbis and rabbinic students within the Reform Movement. Visit us at http://womensrabbinicnetwork.org/

  2. avatar

    Celebrating Sally for the road that she opened for many others…..


  1. An Historic First: Ordaining Our Cantors | RJ Blog - May 3, 2012

    […] month may mark the 40th anniversary of women in the American rabbinate, but another historic event is taking place this weekend: On […]

  2. Thoughts on Celebrating Rabbi Priesand’s Ordination | RJ Blog - May 4, 2012

    […] this 40th anniversary of Rabbi Sally Priesand’s ordination, I am reflecting on the impact of that moment on our own Reform Judaism, the larger Jewish world […]

  3. Thoughts on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Ordination of Women Rabbis « Walking Humbly. Seeking Justice. Living with Hope. - May 4, 2012

    […] this 40th anniversary of Rabbi Sally Priesand’s ordination, I am reflecting on the impact of that moment on our own Reform Judaism, the larger Jewish world […]

  4. “What is More Important – Your Judaism or Your Feminism?” | RJ Blog - May 7, 2012

    […] the year I was ordained as the third woman rabbi in the Reform Movement, just four years after the ordination of Sally Priesand. I had been the only woman in my class; there were as yet no women professors teaching […]

  5. Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age: Looking to Tweens and Teens for Inspiration | RJ Blog - May 8, 2012

    […] year marks a double simcha for American Jews. It is the 40th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman rabbi and the 90th anniversary of the first girl to become a bat mitzvah during a worship […]

  6. Change is Inevitable; Growth is Optional | RJ Blog - May 23, 2012

    […] ideas which, little by little, added depth and seriousness to the voice of women in our tradition. It was Rabbi Sally Priesand, whose courageousness and tenacity raised the voices and visibility of Jewish women to a level of […]

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