Growth of Number of Women Rabbis Continues This Year
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Growth of Number of Women Rabbis Continues This Year

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A record total of 82 women are studying for the rabbinate in Reform and Reconstructionist seminaries during the current academic year, according to an annual Jewish Telegraphic Agency survey. Four of the seven women who were ordained as Reform rabbis last June have been placed in pulpits. Two were placed in non-pulpit pasts and one is seeking a position, the JTA was told.

Ordination of the seven women as Reform rabbis brought to 29 the total of Reform and Reconstructionist women rabbis ordained since 1972 when Sally Preisand was named by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) as the first woman rabbi in America.

Five of the seven new women Reform rabbis were graduated in New York and two in the HUC-JIR school in Cincinnati, Ohio. The five ordained in New York are: Cathy Felix of Highland Park, ill; Jean Friedman of Marblehead, Mass.; Debra Hochen of Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Judit Lewis of Rochester, N.Y.; and Mindy Portnoy of New Haven, Conn. The two ordained in Cincinnati are Aliza Wallin Berk of Encino, Calif.; and Ellen Jay Lewis of Westfield, N.J.

Three of the new Reform women rabbis were named assistant rabbis — Friedman at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto; Rabbi Judith Lewis at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, N.Y.; and Rabbi Ellen Jay Lewis at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. Hachen was named rabbi of Congregation B’nai Sholom in Westboro, Mass.

Felix was named assistant chaplain at Brown University. Portnoy was named B’nai B’rith Hillel director at the American University in Washington. Berk is seeking a position in San Jose, Calif., where her husband, Michael Berk, a fellow ordinee, is assistant rabbi of a congregation.

A belated appointment was disclosed to the JTA by Rabbi A. Stanley Dreyfus concerning his daughter, Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus of Chicago, who was ordained in June, 1979. She could not be placed during 1979 because she had married and become pregnant. She was placed during the past summer as the first Jewish chaplain at Doctors Hospital in New York City.


An HUC-JIR spokesman told the JTA that 13 Reform women candidates are in their final year and barring unexpected complications, will become Reform rabbis in June, 1981. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has four women in their final year of study who are expected to be named Reconstructionist rabbis next June.

If all women rabbinical candidates in their final year are graduated and ordained next June, the total ordained since 1972, under Reform and Reconstructionist auspices, will be 46.

The HUC-JIR spokesman reported that a total of 67 women are studying for the Reform rabbinate this academic year. A Reconstructionist spokesman reported that 15 women are studying for the rabbinate this year.

In the 1978-79 year, a record total of 75 women was enrolled in rabbinical studies: 62 Reform and 13 Reconstructionist. In the 1979-80 year, the total dropped slightly to 74, 62 Reform and 12 Reconstructionist. The record 82 women candidates studying this year comprises 67 Reform and 15 Reconstructionist students.

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