Women Rabbinical Students Under Reform Reconstructionist Auspices Will Get Title of Rabbi Next Month
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Women Rabbinical Students Under Reform Reconstructionist Auspices Will Get Title of Rabbi Next Month

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Ten of the 46 rabbinical students who will receive the title of rabbi in graduation exercises in June under Reform and Reconstructionist auspices are women, according to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency telephonic survey.

Two of the 18 students who will be ordained as Reform rabbis on June 6 at the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) are women. Seven of the 22 candidates who studied at the New York HUC-JIR campus are women. Their graduation exercises will be held June 10 at Temple Emanu-EI here.

One woman and five men will receive the title of rabbi at graduation exercises of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. The ceremonies will be held on June 10 at the Germantown Jewish Center, according to Rabbi Ludwig Nadelmann, associate director of the Reconstructionist Federation of Congregations and Fellowships. He said Linda Holtzman of Philadelphia will be the new Reconstructionist woman rabbi. She is being interviewed and is likely to get a pulpit, according to a spokesman for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

The two women to be ordained in Cincinnati as Reform rabbis are Vicki Lee Hollander of Beechwood, Ohio; and Beverly Lerner of Shawnee Mission, Kansas, according to Harold Epstein, national director of information and development for the Reform seminary.


The seven women who will be ordained as Reform rabbis in New York City on June 10 are Michal Bourne, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Ellen Dreyfuss, Chicago; Jan Kaufman, Baltimore; Beverly Magidson, Detroit; Janet Ross, Tarzana, Calif.; Sheila Russian, Cranston, R.I.; and Bonnie Steinberg, Belmont, Mass.

If Rabbi-designate Holtzman does get a pulpit, she will be one of two women Reconstructionist rabbis — out of a present total of five Reconstructionist women rabbis — to hold a pulpit. Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is currently the only Reconstructionist woman rabbi holding a pulpit. In a unique arrangement, she shares the pulpit of Congregation Beth EI Zedek in Indianapolis, with her husband, Dennis Sasso, who is also a Reconstructionist rabbi.

The other three Reconstructionist women rabbis are: Rebecca Alpert, director of student affairs at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Ilene Schneider, principal of the Cyrus Adler regional Hebrew High School in Philadelphia; and Ruth Sandberg, director of religious education at Reform Congregation Kneseth Israel of Elkins Park, Pa.

The seven women to be ordained as Reform rabbis here on June 10 will bring to 14 the number of such women rabbis, of whom three hold pulpits. Rabbi Sally J. Preisand, who made history by being ordained as the first woman rabbi in American history in 1972, was appointed assistant rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue here and promoted to associate rabbi before she suddenly resigned, refusing to discuss her reasons for doing so but affirming she intended to remain in the rabbinate.

Women Reform rabbis holding pulpits are Rosalind A. Gold, assistant rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, N.Y.; Deborah R.Prinz, assistant rabbi at the Central Synagogue of New York; and Myra Soifer, assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in New Orleans.

HUC-JIR women rabbis not holding pulpits are Michal S. Bernstein, who left a pulpit for graduate study; Laura J. Heller, director of the Hillel Foundation Center at the University of Southern California; and Rabbi Karen L. Fox, who is assistant director of the Federation of Reform Syngogues here.


As of the June graduation exercises, there will be 21 women ordained as rabbis — 16 Reform and five Reconstructionists. The idea of women rabbis remains totally unacceptable to the Orthodox movement. There is sufficient support for the idea of Conservative women rabbis to have induced Chancellor Gerson Cohen of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America to have named a special commission which recommended that the JTS accept women as candidates for the Conservative rabbinate.

A vote by the JTS Senate on the recommendation, scheduled for May 30, was postponed by Cohen, at the request of JTS faculty members who asked for more time to study the issue. In announcing the postponement, Cohen said a definite stand would be taken on the issue for the 1980-81 academic year.

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