Initiative pressing for more female leaders

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish Women International is joining with the Rabbinical Assembly in an initiative to advance women’s leadership in the Jewish community.

The first event in the initiative was a conference call Monday with Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima Party.

"I entered politics because of my aspiration and need to work to end conflict with Palestinians,” Livni said on the call. "Because of Israel’s security needs in terms of peace and war, some people think that this is the role of men and not women. During the election I discovered that by doing what’s natural for me, I give strength and power to women, and they strengthen me."

Leaders of the two groups said the purpose of the calls and meetings they are planning is to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

“Many of the voices speaking publicly about the Jewish community are men’s voices,” said Susan Turnbull, the chairwoman of JWI’s board of trustees.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly — the Conservative movement’s clerical arm — called for reflection over the High Holidays of avenues to greater community involvement by women.

"We must bring women together across all perspectives, deepen the conversations and strengthen our voices to support the Jewish people," she said.

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