A Painful Omission


Thank you for your article remembering our visionary rabbi, teacher and leader, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Panken (“Reform Judaism’s Sweet Prince,” May 9). I had the honor of attending the funeral and am requesting that you print a correction regarding the omission of two of the gifted rabbis who offered brilliant, well-crafted and searingly personal eulogies at that service.

Your editorial referred only to the eulogies of three rabbis, all men and distinguished leaders of our movement who also spoke from the heart in focusing on Rabbi Panken’s professional accomplishments.

Rabbi Melinda Panken, senior rabbi of Temple Shaarei Emeth in Manalapan, N.J., and Rabbi Sarah Messinger of Shireinu in the Greater Philadelphia area are both distinguished rabbis in their own right. Each offered eulogies that focused on Rabbi Panken’s family and the profound connections forged and the love that lives on even after a tragic death. Rabbi Melinda Panken is Rabbi Aaron Panken’s sister, and Rabbi Messinger is his sister-in-law. How painful it must have been for each of them to act in a professional capacity to offer words of comfort to all when they themselves were experiencing a most profound loss.

Rabbi Panken always lifted up the light in all of us, his students. He was a warrior for egalitarianism in Judaism.

Your omission is an affront to his work for equality in our faith and an insult to female rabbis in general.

Beth Chaim Reform
Malvern, Pa.

Editor’s Note: We deeply regret omitting the names and quotes from the eulogies of Rabbis Melinda Panken, Sarah Messinger and Peter Panken (the father of Aaron and Melinda) in our Editorial. No slight was intended.