Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner Newsletter
March 2010
Dear Friends,

After intensive conversations with Orthodoxy's Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Avi Weiss decided not to confer the title of Rabba upon women studying to be Orthodox spiritual leaders, though Sara Hurwitz will retain her title. Instead, these women will be referred to as Maharats, a special title invented for them (in the tradition of Lea Sestieri, the first Italian woman to have a rabbinic education). The process toward the inclusion of women in Jewish leadership roles has a long and rich story, and in honor of Women's History Month, BJPA @ NYU Wagner is highlighting materials that frame this latest chapter.


In 1975, Sara Feinstein writes about Opening Opportunities for Women in Jewish Communal Service. In 1979, a few years after the ordination of the first female Reform and Reconstructionist Rabbis and as conflict stirred within the Conservative movement, Janet Rosenberg writes From Patriarchy to Partnership: The Evolution of the Jewish Woman, arguing against gender roles in Judaism.  The American Jewish Committee issues its report on The Role of Women in Jewish Religious Life in 1982, the year before the Rabbinical Assembly voted to ordain women. In 1997, Bethamie Horowitz, Pearl Beck, and Charles Kadushin produce a report showing the under-representation of women on the boards of major American Jewish organizations. This led to Power and Parity, produced by Ma'yan. In 1999, CAJE releases its report on Attitudes Toward Women as Jewish Day School Administrators. In 2004, Judith Schor and I find major gaps in the compensation and advancement of men and women rabbis in the Conservative Movement. In 2005, Ma'yan produces a report on Assessing the Experiences of Women in the Jewish Community and in 2008, Shifra Bronznick, Didi Goldenhar, and Marty Linsky release Leveling the Playing Field: Advancing Women in Jewish Organizational Life. Last November, Jane Eisner and Devra Ferst demonstrate how Jewish women lag far behind Jewish men in terms of promotion and pay in Jewish organizations. And last month in the Forward, Joanna Samuels calls on Jewish organizations and leaders to hold themselves accountable for gender equity. The stories and reports continue to be written and you will find the best of them on BJPA.


For more resources on Jewish women, I invite you to explore the Jewish Women's Archive, Lilith, Ma'yan, and Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community.

With best wishes,
Prof. Steven M. Cohen
Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner

A recent study, commissioned by the Union Theological Seminary, found that most seminaries and rabbinical schools in the United States are failing to prepare their students in sexuality education. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is the only Jewish seminary that meets the study's criteria for practicing a progressive approach to sexuality content in the curriculum; institutional commitment to sexuality and gender equity; and advocacy and support for sexuality-related issues. Read the full report here.

The High Cost of Jewish Living
Jack Wertheimer
(March 2010)

Furthering Pluralistic Jewish Education in Israel: An Evaluation of the Meitarim School Network, Ezra Kopelowitz and Stephen Markowitz (March 2010)

New Conceptions of Community, Institute for Jewish Policy Research (February 2010)

Current Trends in Jewish Teen Participation with Out-of-School Activities: A Survey and Analysis of Relevant Research, Rose Community Foundation (February 2010)

2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People, Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (January 2010)

Rekindling Tradition as Life Partnerships End, Synagogue 3000 (January 2010)

Click HERE for More New Publications



Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman is the Professor of contemporary Jewish life, co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and a faculty affiliate at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University. She has written extensively on the Jewish family, Jewish education, the changing roles of Jewish women, American Jewish literature and film, the impact of feminism, and intermarriage. Check out her writings on the BJPA.

Measuring Cause and Effect in Jewish Education

On February 1, 2010, Prof. Adam Gamoran spoke at NYU Wagner on "Impact or Bias? Measuring Cause and Effect in Jewish Education." In case you missed his talk, it is available for download here.

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BJPA is funded by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.