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18 Women Ordained As Reform and Reconstructionist Rabbis

May 26, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The 14 women scheduled to be ordained this month and in June as Reform rabbis and the four who became Reconstructionist rabbis this month bring to 47 the total number of women designated as Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis since 1972, according to an annual Jewish Telegraphic Agency survey. The 47 include 37 Reform and 10 Reconstructionist woman rabbis.

The process of ordination of women rabbis in the United States began in 1972 when Sally Preisand was named as the first woman rabbi in American history by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Reform higher education and rabbinic school.

Ordination exercises for the 1980-81 Reform candidates will be held May 31 at Temple Emanu-El in New York City and on June 6 at the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, according to Harold

Epstein, HUC-JIR director of development and information. The Reconstructionist graduation exercise was held May 17 at Temple Sinai in Dresher, a suburb of Philadelphia, homeof the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Twenty-two students will be ordained as Reform rabbis at Temple Emanu-El, Epstein said — 12 menand 10 women. There will also be 22 students ordained at the Cincinnati ceremonies — four of them women.

The 10 women to be ordained as Reform rabbis in New York City on May 31 are: Susan Abramson of Boston; Melanie Aron of Cincinnati; Helene Ferris of Scarsdale, N.Y.; Elyse Frishman of Armonk, N.Y.; Patrice Heller of St. Louis, Mo.; Leah Kroll of Woodland Hills, Col.; Lynne Landsberg of Roslyn Heights, N.Y.; Sandra Levine of San Jose, Cal.; Sara Perman of Hollywood, Fla.; and Laurie Rutenberg of Clearwater, Fla.

The four women to be ordained as Reform rabbis in June in Cincinnati are: Elizabeth Rolle of Chautaqua, N.Y.; Karen Ann Soria of Western Springs, III.; Susan Andre Talve of North Mills, N.Y.; and Faedre Lazar Weiss of Los Angeles.

Eleven students — seven men and four women — were graduated May 17 in Dresher as Reconstructionist rabbis. The four women are Susan Edwards Frank of Woods Hole, Mass.; Bonnie Koppell of Brooklyn; Joy Devra Levitt of Centerport, N.Y.; and Hava Lynn Pell of Allentown, Pa.


Ferris is the mother of three teen-age children, Epstein reported. Her husband is a businessman. She has been appointed assistant rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, the same post which was Rabbi Preisand’s first pulpit assignment.

Talve is marrying a fellow student, James Goodman, also being ordained in Cincinnati on June 6. They will share a pulpit in Temple Shaare in St. Louis. Epstein said this was the first time in Reform history that a married rabbinic couple will share a pulpit. A Reconstructionist rabbinic couple — Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Dennis Sasso — share the pulpit of Conservative Beth Zedek in Indianapolis.

Kroll is the mother of two small children. She is married to Dr. Michael Zeldin, a member of the HUC-JIR faculty in New York City. Frish-man is married to a rabbi, Daniel Freelander, who was ordained in 1975. Levitt is marrying Rabbi Lee Friedlander on May 30. He has been named rabbi of the North Shore Reconstructionist Congregation on Long Island. Levitt will serve as rabbi of B’nai Keshet-Montclair Jewish Center in Montclair, N.J.

Koppell, who has served as an army chaplain as the only woman rabbi in the U.S. armed forces, will continue in that capacity after her ordination. Pell will serve as rabbi in a synagogue now under construction, which will depend on solar sources of energy. A spokesperson said Brith Achim, in Valley Forge, Pa., will be the only such structure in the area and is expected to become a central meeting place for a wide variety of Jewish groups.

Frank expects to continue her studies as a candidate for a Ph.D. in the department of New Testament Studies at Temple University.

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