Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Most Likely to Marry a Rabbi

Thirty years ago I participated in USY Pilgrimage. It was a summer that profoundly affected my life.

I'm to the right of the sign, in the blue shorts and white T. It was 1985. It was the year JTS ordained the first Conservative woman as a rabbi, the culmination of 15 years of work by Ezrat Nashim, a group founded to study the status of women in Judaism. As USYers we didn't know about that. For us, the status quo remained.

I was one of the few girls on the trip who could lead t'fillot. I'd never learned to read Torah, nor really haftarah, but I knew the prayers. (Thanks Mr. Werfel and USY.) This left me in the position of leading what girls could lead (anything that didn't require a minyan). After many mornings of waiting for 10 boys to get to t'fillot on time, I, with a group of other girls, argued for a women's only minyan. At the end of the summer our group, as all groups before and after, gave out summer awards. My group gave me the "Most Likely to Marry a Rabbi" award since I couldn't be a rabbi. It was the first time anyone suggested anything remotely connected to me becoming a rabbi, although it would be another 3 years before the idea would actually take hold. This finally occurred when my suite mate at Brandeis, Brian Meyers, suggested it to me after an evening of group soul-searching among us liberal arts majors. (We believed we were only suited for grad school.) But once the idea took seed it was settled. I knew it was the right decision.

This is the 30th anniversary of that historic event (both women's ordination and my award). Sean & I were proud to travel to New York for the celebration. I also attended a special women's conference to celebrate the 20th anniversary. I'm in the second row, middle, tweed jacket and black turtleneck with long blond hair.

At my Rabbinical School interview I said my goal was to change the world by reaching out and touching one person at a time. Looking over 30 years from that Pilgrimage summer until now, I realize how lucky I've been to have been a part of this!

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