Annual Survey: 11 New Women Rabbis This Summer
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Annual Survey: 11 New Women Rabbis This Summer

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Eleven women are being ordained this summer as Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis, bringing to 141 the number of women ordained since the process began in the Reform movement in 1972.

In its annual survey of these ordinations, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told that the Conservative movement did not ordain any women at graduation ceremonies at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) on May 14. Amy Eilberg, of Bloomington, Ind., was ordained as the first Conservative woman rabbi in JTS history in June 1985.

The second woman so ordained is Nina Beiber Feinstein, in June 1986. She returned to her hometown of Dallas, and Conservative officials report they have lost contact with her.

Reform ordinations were held on May 24 at Temple Emanu-El in New York and May 30 at the Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical School will ordain two womens rabbis on June 7 at Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill, Pa. They are Barbara Rosman Penzner of Leawood, Kan., and Amy Zveiback Levenson of Vineland, NJ.

Nine women completed studies for the Reform rabbinate for ordination this summer. They are: Esther Jo Adler, of Tarzana, Calif., Beth Dina Davidson of Sag Harbor, NY, Susan Laemmel Fletcher of Hermosa Beach, Calif., Lynn Heather Goldstein of Philadelphia, Sara Jo Messinger of Scarsdale, NY, Miriam Ella Shapiro of Van Nuys, Calif., Marjorie Slome of Cincinnati, Sue Ann Wasserman of Pound Ridge, NY, and Donna Ilene Greenfield Adler of Brookline, Mass.

The majority of the women rabbis generally have been placed in subordinate pulpit positions, like their newly ordained male colleagues. The others have taken positions in administration and teaching.

With 17 women finishing their fourth year of rabbinic studies in Reform rabbinical schools, at least five at the Reconstructionist rabbinical school, and at least six studying in the Conservative rabbinical school, it is evident that entry of women into the ranks of the American rabbinate can be expected to grow.

One notable event in the graduation ceremonies was the ordination of the first Soviet-born candidate, Leonid Feldman, as a Conservative rabbi. In another unusual development, Marla Rosenfeld Barugel and Erica Lippitz became, at the Conservative ceremonies, the first women in Conservative Judaism to receive the diploma of cantor.

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