A special Knesset subcommittee is eliciting candid assessments about the role of women in Jewish community life, while posing searing questions about the relative lack of women in Jewish leadership roles.
Some 10 presenters from leading organizations in Israel and North America addressed a special subcommittee of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee during a 90-minute session Tuesday, chaired by MK Dr. Einat Wilf (Atzmaut).
“Is the glass half empty or full?” asked Shifra Bronznick, founding president of the New York City-based Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, who addressed the subcommittee for Relations of Israel with World Jewish Communities.
Bronznick mapped female leadership positions according to what she called “spheres” - start-ups, the rabbinate, Jewish media and social justice organizations. “Many more women lead these organizations, and we are seeing a bifurcation between these groups and the veteran agencies of Jewish life,” said Bronznick.
Wilf - who noted in her opening remarks “that there are more Jewish women in the United States Supreme Court than in the leadership of major Jewish Federations” - was quickly corrected.
Both Bronznick and Gail Norry, chairwoman of the National Women’s Philanthropy of Jewish Federation of North America, cited two women who now serve as CEOs of large-city Jewish Federations: Deborah Corber in Montreal, Canada; and Jennifer Gorovitz in San Francisco, California. Of the 157 Jewish Federations, 50 have female executives, according to Norry.
Nadia Ellis, an associate fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, presented a range of data demonstrating that a lack of parity in Jewish leadership of Jewish organizations abroad is comparable to the absence of women in the highest echelons of Israeli and American society in general. “We believe that Israel has to set the example and stand for the values that it expects Jewish organizations to adopt,” she said.
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