NEW YORK (Jan. 14)
Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations this week-end denied the report that his organization had given approval to the appointment of Mrs. William Ackerman as spiritual leader of the Beth Israel Congregation of Meridien, Mississippi. Mrs. Ackerman was appointed spiritual leader by the congregation to replace her husband, the late Rabbi William Ackerman.
Approving in principle the right of women to serve in the rabbinate, Dr. Eisendrath, leader of the central body of Reform Judaism representing more than 425 congregations throughout the United States and Canada, declared that to his knowledge Mrs. Ackerman did not possess the qualifications of a rabbi.
“To qualify for the rabbinate,” Dr. Einendrath said, “one must receive ordination, which in the United States is generally bestowed by one or another of the Jewish theological colleges upon the completion of a long and intensive course of specialized rabbinical instruction and training. So far as I can gather, Mrs. Ackerman has not received this training nor has she been ordained.”
Dr. Eisendrath also declared that the Union of American Hebrew Congregations would have grave reservations on the appointment of a non-ordained Jew–male or female–to a pulpit in a Liberal Jewish congregation. However, he added, congregations affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations are autonomous and have the right to choose their own rabbi regardless of the Union’s approval or disapproval.
“There is nothing in the practice and principles of Liberal Judaism which precludes the possibility of a woman serving as a rabbi,” Dr. Eisendrath said. “However, she would have to fulfill the prerequisites of rabbinical training and ordination to qualify for that honored post.”