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Oldest Philadelphia Congregation Elects First Woman Board Member

Mikveh Israel, the second oldest synagogue in the United States and the oldest in this city, has broken a tradition going back more than two centuries by electing a woman to the board of managers, it was disclosed today. She is Dr. Lillian S. Alpers, chief of the arthritic clinic at the Women’s Medical College, where she also lectures on marriage counselling.

Last April, the 219-year-old Orthodox Spanish-Portuguese congregation amended its constitution to eliminate a long-standing clause that only males were eligible to become members of the board of managers. The action, taken for the first time in the election of Dr. Alpers, also made women eligible as officers of the congregation. David Arons, president of the synagogue, said the election of a woman to the board would not alter the orthodox custom of permitting only men to conduct services.

Dr. Alpers’ husband, Dr. Bernard Alpers, head of the Neurology Department at Jefferson Medical College, is vice president of Mikveh Israel.