At this point in the Pesach lead-up, a liberated woman’s mind turns from the inside of her refrigerator, which she is examining with curiosity — what year did I buy this pesto? — to her hopes for this year’s seder. For some women, this leads to the avid purchasing of new haggadahs or the creation of art projects that simulate the 10 plagues or thinking up “homework assignments” for invited guests (“Describe a time in your life when your heart felt hard”).
The Jewish community rightly holds its leaders responsible for managing complex organizational tasks. Yet when it comes to creating workplaces that routinely hire, advance and retain women in positions of authority and visibility, many leaders throw up their hands. So here’s a thought: Let’s all of us, leaders and constituents, stop acting like the advancement of women in Jewish communal life is impossibly complicated. If communal leaders follow these three easy steps, and all of the rest of us hold them accountable to committing themselves to concrete change, we will together improve Jewish organizations for women — and for men.
Headlining a recent community email from the Jewish Theological Seminary was a phrase that was conspicuously out of place: swimsuit model. The email touted the participation of the Conservative movement’s flagship seminary in an event hosted by “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Esti Ginzburg,” and sponsored by Birthright NEXT and the Council of Young Jewish Presidents. Described as “an evening of fashion and passion” the event was billed as “a major opportunity for guests to get a sense of the incredible variety of Jewish engagement opportunities in New York — and to party with hundreds of other professional, active, vibrant, young Jews.”
As a Conservative rabbi, I applaud the Jewish Theological Seminary’s decision this week to ordain openly gay and lesbian Jews.