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As A Religious Leader, I’m Often The Only Woman In The Room

To the editor:

The culture Larry Cohler-Esses describes in his piece “The Gender Gap At Jewish Non-Profits Is Bad — And Getting Worse,” is profoundly familiar to me. Most especially when I enter into religious settings, I am frequently one of the only women in the room, and, as a lesbian, almost always the only queer person. As I began my service as leader of the Reconstructionist movement in 2014, I told members of Reconstructionist communities that, as a woman and also as a lesbian, I am not a token representative — I am honored to be the leader of all Reconstructionists — but I am representative of our values. It is these values—celebrating the tzelem Elohim, inherent worth and dignity of every human being and valuing the contributions of all Jews to the Jewish project, that led the Reconstructionists to be the first movement to elevate a woman to this level of leadership. We are indeed “historically high-impact” and hope that we once again lead in this area. I am excited to welcome another RRC graduate, Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, to national leadership as she is elevated to the presidency of Hebrew College, and hope that many more woman are recognized and embraced for their leadership potential.

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