Over 50 Rabbis And Communal Leaders Call For More Women At The Top Of Jewish Organizations

It’s time to act. As a community, we have talked about the issue of gender equality for a long time. It has become part of who we are as Jews. We have made terrific strides in some areas of our communal life towards equality, but hiring at the senior levels of Jewish organizations isn’t one of them. In fact, we have made no progress toward increasing the number of women at the CEO level at our largest communal organizations. It is time to hold our organizations accountable for measurable progress in this area. We speak on our own behalf, as we believe it is time to create new networks of support in response to this need for change. We are eager to partner with you if you are interested in working towards gender equity in hiring. We invited leaders in our communities to sign this letter with us and invite you to add your name here and join our conversation.

Enough is enough — Dayenu.

Allison Fine, Sara Shapiro-Plevan, and Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu

Dear Boards of Directors of Jewish Institutions, Synagogues and Schools,

Each year the Forward publishes the list of salaries for the highest paid professionals in the Jewish institutional world. This year, no different from past years, a woman’s name doesn’t appear until number 29 on the list. And out of the top 56, only 8 are women. Women make up the majority of staff people at Jewish institutions and yet continue to be woefully underrepresented and in executive positions.

Enough is enough. Dayenu!

We need more transparent hiring practices and a commitment to gender equity throughout the hiring process. We ask that all Jewish organizations agree to the following hiring practices and post them on their websites and include them in all job postings and descriptions:

• An equal representation of women and men on hiring committees
• A commitment to having one-third of the candidates for a position be women
• A commitment to assigning a member of the hiring committee as a gender bias monitor.*

If you or members of your team are uneasy about the idea of requiring a certain number of women be in a pool of candidates, it means that you’re not trying hard enough to picture a woman in the job. If you think there are not enough qualified women to fill your position, you are not looking hard enough or advertising the position widely enough. Women are standing right in front of you banging their heads against the glass ceiling doing their jobs — now it’s time for you to do yours.

We invite you to share this letter with your organization’s staff and boards and to incorporate these ideas into your hiring practices. We also ask that you show your support for these ideas by signing this pledge.

Working together, we will create a culture where both women and men can serve the Jewish people to the best of their capacities. Join us on this open source Google Doc to share best practices, ideas and questions. We invite everyone to access it, share, and learn from one another. We will all benefit when men and women’s voices come together to lead our organizations. Let’s make this happen!


Allison Fine, Sara Shapiro-Plevan, and Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu

*We are currently planning this work and will provide more information on trainings as they become available.


Rick Aranson
Melissa Balaban
Robert Bank
Jamie Allen Black
Rabbi Sharon Brous
Shifra Bronznick
Dan Brown
Nina Bruder
Jeremy Burton
Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen
Lisa Colton
Barbara Dobkin
Peter Eckstein
Dr. Deborah Skolnick Einhorn
Rabbi Amy Eilberg
Shira D. Epstein
Allison Fine
Dr. Andrea Jacobs
Sheila Katz
Steven Kerbel
Idit Klein
Aliza Kline
Jonathan Krasner
Nanette Fridman
Adina H. Frydman
Jill Goldenberg
Rabbi Lisa L Goldstein
Sally Gottesman
Rabbi Yechiel Hoffman, EdD
Michael Hopkins
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
Marty Linsky
Rabbi Sara Luria
Cheryl Magen
Elizabeth Mandel
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
Stefanie Rhodes
Eric M. Robbins
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan
Rabbi Joanna Samuels
Kari Saratovsky
Sara Shapiro-Plevan
Bob Sherman
Rabbi Felicia L. Sol
Rabbi Michael Shire
Rabbi Andy Shugerman
Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman
Cyd Weissman
Ron Wolfson

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Over 50 Rabbis And Communal Leaders Call For More Women At The Top Of Jewish Organizations

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Over 50 Rabbis And Communal Leaders Call For More Women At The Top Of Jewish Organizations

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