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September 26, 2003 - Image 107

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Women Rabbis
Are Finding Jobs


Jewish Telegraphic Age210)

New York


hree decades after die first
woman broke the rabbinic
barrier, women entering
the rabbinate say gender is
no longer an issue when it collies to
getting a job.
But as for their pay --- well, that's
a different story.
Many newly ordained women say
they never encountered any overt
discrimination while job hunting.
And synagogue search officials say
they no longer think of female candi-
dates as unusual, given that many
synagogues already have women in
senior positions.
Indeed, says Rabbi Zari Weiss, co-
president of the NVomen's Rabbinical
Network, a 400-member Reform
group, the "world has changed" for
women rabbis. But Rabbi Weiss, who
was ordained in 1991, said the sec-
ond and third generation of women
in the rabbinate still face major hur-
dles, such as pay parity:
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, 28, vv-ho
is starting this year as assistant rabbi
at the 2,700-family Reform Temple
Eman.ii-E1 in Dallas, Texas, says
about half of her Hebrew Union
College peers were women, many of
whom felt grateful for their pioneer-
ing sisters who paved the Way. "We're
not fighting to have our voices heard
or our needs addressed," she says.
That's in part because women have
risen to some top spots in the rab-
binical organizational world, not
only at major pulpits. Rabbi Janet
Marder, of Congregation Beth Am in
Los Altos Hills, Calif., recently was
named president of the Reform rab-
bis' group, the Central Conference of
American Rabbis. Rabbi Barbara
Penzer, of Temple Fliltel B'nai Tora
in 'West Roxbury, Mass., is the for-
mer president of the Reconstruc-
tionist Rabbinical Association.
Women rabbis such as Julie
Schonfeld also occupy professional
leadership roles in groups like the
Conservative movement's Rabbinical
Assembly, where Rabbi Schonfeld is
director of rabbinic development.

And at the Conservative University
of Judaism in Los Angeles, Rabbis
Cheryl Peretz and Mimi Weiss are
assistant deans of the Ziegler School
of Rabbinic Studies.
But elsewhere, women lag behind
men in the rabbinate. 'Across the
board,' there is stilt a great discrepan-
cy in terms of pay --- its shocking,"
Rabbi Weiss says.

Stained Ceiling

Just how wide the gap in pay is
remains unclear. The Rabbinical
Assembly has con ex issioned a
$25,000 study to examine the situa-
tion in the Conservative movement.
ue to be conclud ed next spring, the e
study will address what o'
Conservative figure dubs ne
"the stained
glass ceiling" and other career issues
m en rabbis may face.
assumption is that
many women rabbis are not earning
as much as men, said Rabbi
Schonfeld, who is heading the study
Until now, there has been no hard
evidence to ba ck up that assumption
n the Conservative movemen
e n Q r the -
tructcihonaii, sot and d aiRef
n w


about IR;7efo°0rm
nghi3ch3 h
en who belong to the Cent7ral
Conference of American Rabbis,
became the first Jewish stream to
break the rabbinic gender barrie
- 6 t,
when Sally PrieSand was
The Reconstruction.ist moveme
ordained its first woman, Sandy
Eisenberg Sasso, in 1974. of
Reconstructionist rabbis now
ordained, 110 are women.
In 1985, Amy Eilberg became the
first woman ordained at the
Conservative movement's Jewish
Theological Seminary, following a
protracted debate over women's ordi
nation. Today, there are 177 women
among about 1,500 Conservative
The telephone survey, which will
be headed by sociologist Steven M.
Cohen of Hebrew University, will
attempt to reach all of these women,
as well as 177 male rabbis.


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