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CANDLELIGHTING AT 6:41 P.M.
VOL. XC, NO. 7
Not Only Israel
Do American Jews concentrate too much on Israel — to the exclusion
of Other issues — in deciding whether or not to vote for a political
candidate? That is one of the hottest and touchiest issues being debated
in political circles these days. And an increasing number of leaders are
speaking out to say that while Israel is, and must always .be, our number
one priority, we must not be perceived of as only caring about Israel.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told a group of Jewish leaders from Detroit
this week that the definition of "pro-Israel" must be broadened to include
issues that ensure the flourishing of pluralism in this country. If a
candidate is for Israel and for school prayer, then I say he is Not for
Israel;" said Levin. "Because if a candidate is against pluralism in this
country, then Israel is weakened because we, as American. Jews, are
weakened. And Israel's survival depends on our survival." (See story on
Similarly, the American Jewish Committee launched a Washington
newsletter this week to help counter the perception among legislators
that American Jews are "one-issue voters." M.J. Rosenberg, the
Washington representative of the Committee and editor of the newsletter,
noted that political appeals to Jewish voters solely on the basis of their -
support for Israel is insulting.
It's also dangerous. American Jews have too many interests to be
dismissed as caring only about Israel, and perhaps chief among these
interests is the issue of pluralism.
A Cynic's Summit?
This weekend, President Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail
Gorbachev will meet in Iceland for what is billed as a prelude to the "real
summit" tentatively scheduled for some later date in Washington. The
agenda of both sides is heavily laced with issues related to arms control.
In this age of nuclear uncertainty and bloated military budgets, this
is all to the good. The two superpowers must come to grips with their
arms mania — or the world will be the worse. But unlike other meetings
between U.S. and Soviet leaders, this one has been preceded by virtual
silence about human rights issues, especially about the approximately
400,000 Soviet Jews who are waiting to leave the country of their birth.
Perhaps one of the reasons for holding this meeting in Iceland just
prior to Yom Kippur was a Soviet attempt to discourage activists on
behalf of Soviet Jewry from attending and dramatizing their cause.
But the issue will not be wished away. Too many people care too
much. And we think the Administration cares as well. Perhaps
Washington feels that it can best be handled through quiet diplomacy.
But we believe that the issue of human rights deserves the highest
priority and that this is a crucial opportunity to link Soviet Jewish
emigration to compromises on arms control. Without prodding from the
West, one can be sure that the USSR will continue its policy of flagrant
disregard for the very rights to which all people in all places are entitled.
Jewish Leadership Role
Has Slowed For Women
he advancement of women in
professional, business and in
Jewish life has slowed since
the feminist revolution. Despite
some recent bright spots, the in-
creased influence of women in a
man's world will still take a long
time before the word "equal" can be
Women in the leadership roles
of national Jewish organizations
have made marked advances — as
lay presidents of the Council of
Jewish Federations, the World
Zionist Organization, Canadian
Jewish Congress, American section
of the World Jewish Congress. Many
are presidents of their synagogues
and scores serve on organizational
and congregational boards.
Despite this bright note, when
one turns to the Jewish professional
world, a much darker picture ap-
pears. Very few women hold top
executive positions in national
Jewish or communal agencies, and
national Jewish fund-raising organ-
izations such as United Jewish Ap-
peal or Israel Bonds, do not have a
woman in any high executive post.
Even in Israel, where the beloved
Golda once headed the government,
not a single woman holds a cabinet
post and the female members of.the
Knesset are few indeed.
During the last five years in the
Conservative movement, a
groundswell developed for the ordi-
nation of women, and rightfully so.
Yet, those beating down the doors as
entering female rabbinic students at
the Jewish Theological Seminary of
America are not as great in number
as had been predicted.
Now that the victory of admis-
Selma Weintraub is president of the
Women's League for Conservative
sion has been won, are women re-
flecting on the problems of those
women entering our traditional, yet
modern form of religious expression?
Perhaps the answer lies in the stark
facts that 14 years after the ordina-
tion of the first woman rabbi in Re-
form Judaism, Sally Preisand, very
few women serve as the senior rabbi
in a major pulpit anywhere in the
I do not know how many con-
gregations are willing to accept
women as rabbis. I also do not think
Are women reflecting on
the problems of those
women entering our
traditional, yet modern
form of religious
that we have a sufficient number of
women in key leadership roles. It
will take time to eliminate the
stereotypes, the inborn resistance
against accepting women rabbis.
Perhaps in the next generation we
will be able to accommodate this
Women face an additional chal-
lenge as they aspire to leadership
roles, whether this be in federations,
the community or even the syna-
gogue, due to the conventionalized
roles they had possessed for many
years. Because of the traditional ac-
ceptance of men, women are ex-
pected to perform at a much higher
level. For example, when a man
stumbles during the recitation of
Torah blessings, very little is made
of it. However, let a woman do the
same and there is no doubt that she
would be immediately subjected to
criticism and unfavorable comments.
I recently watched a television
program in which three female Har-
vard Business School graduates, now