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.
- In 1973, ABC News interviewed Sally Priesand, who became the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the United States on June 3, 1972. This New York Times piece from 2006, titled “Pioneering Rabbi Who Softly Made Her Way,” profiles her path to the rabbinate and the ways she transformed contemporary Judaism.
- 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.”
- In “Not More Than My Place; Not Less Than My Space,” Rabbi Laura Geller discusses how she balances her desire to be acknowledged while making space for others to shine.
- The Religious Action Center offers information on women’s rights through a Jewish prism and public policy updates on topics like reproductive rights, violence against women, women’s health and pay discrimination.
- 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.