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Annual Survey of Women Ordained As Rabbis

October 6, 1987
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Four of the nine woman ordained as Reform rabbis last summer have been appointed assistant rabbis and the two women ordained as Reconstructionist rabbis have been placed as solo rabbis, according to the annual Jewish Telegraphic Agency survey of such placements. Solo rabbis is the term used to describe spiritual leaders of congregations which are too small to need or afford more than one rabbi.

Donna Adler of Brookline, Mass. has been named assistant rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Hamilton, Ohio; Beth Davidson of Sag Harbor, NY has been appointed assistant rabbi at Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville; Lynn Goldstein of Philadelphia has been appointed assistant rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Miami; and Sue Ann Wasserman of Pound Ridge, NY has been appointed assistant rabbi at the Temple in Atlanta, Ga.

Barbara Penzner of Leawood, Kan. and Amy Levenson of Vineland, NJ are the solo rabbis. Penzner is at the Greater Boston Reconstructionist Havurah and Levenson is at the B’nai Israel Reconstructionis Congregation in South Bend, Ind.

Susan Fletcher of Hermosa Beach, Cal.. has been named Hillel director at Los Angeles Valley College; Sarah Messinger of Scarsdale has been named part-time rabbi at Beth Yehuda Synagogue in Lock Haven, Pa. Marjorie Slome of Cincinnati is a waiting placement.

Two of the newly-ordained women Reform rabbis are attending graduate schools, Esther Adler of Tarzana, Cal. at Yale; and Miriam Shapero of Van Nuys, Cal. at Yale.


The total of Reform women rabbis ordained since Sally Preisand becomes the first woman rabbi in American history in 1972 is Ill. The number of women ordained as Reconstructionist rabbis is 30, for a total of 141 women rabbis ordained since the process began.

Although two women were ordained as Conservative rabbis, one in 1985 and one in 1986, they were exceptional situations, stemming in part from a decade-long struggle in the Conservative movement over ordaining women. Amy Eilberg of Bloomington, Ind. was ordained as the first woman Conservative rabbi in 1985 and Nina Beiber Feinstein was ordained in 1986.

Women will be returning to the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist seminaries when studies are resumed for the 1987-88 academic year, indicating that entry of women into the ranks of the American rabbinate can be expected to continue.

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