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The web site http://www.loyno.edu/~wessing/docs/KeyDatesJudaism.html provides a timeline of Women's Leadership of Judaism in the US. There's a whole chronology of women's ordination, in all religions, at http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/Chronolgy_Ordination.htm. Some key dates, drawn from these sites as well as other sites, are:
1846. Reform Judaism in Gemany states that women are equal to men in Judaism in terms of "religious privileges and duties." The result is that in Reform Judaism, women are counted in the minyan or quorum needed for public worship service, the daily prayer in which a man thanks God for not having made him a woman is dropped, girls and women are taught Torah and Talmud, and women and men sit together in the congregation.
1875. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise founds Hebrew Union College (Reform) in Cincinnati, and encourages women to attend. However, they cannot be ordained as rabbis.
1886. The Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) is founded to train rabbis.
1893. Two Jewish women, Josephine Lazarus and Henrietta Szold, address the Worlds Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition. The Congress of Jewish Women, organized by Hannah G. Solomon, is held in conjunction with the Parliament. The Congress of Jewish Women continues after the Parliament as the National Council of Jewish Women (Reform), the first national Jewish womens organization, with Hannah G. Solomon as President.
1911. Hadassah, the Womens Zionist Organization of America, is founded by Henrietta Szold (Conservative), who had earlier attended Jewish Theological Seminary, to bring improved health care to Palestine.
1921. The issue of ordaining a woman rabbi is first raised by Martha Neumark, a student at the Hebrew Union College (Reform) and daughter of a HUC professor. The HUC faculty and the Central Conference of American Rabbis conclude that there is no reason not to ordain women, but the HUC Board of Governors maintains the policy of ordaining only men as rabbis.
1922. The first bat mitzvah in America takes place for Judith Kaplan, daughter of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, who subsequently becomes the inspirer of Reconstructionism.
1935. Regina Jonas was ordained by the liberal Rabbi Max Dienemann in Offenbach GERMANY, who was the head of the Liberal Rabbis Association. Being ordained was one thing, but finding a pulpit was another. Regina Jonas found work as a chaplain in various Jewish social institutions. Because of Nazi persecution many rabbis emigrated and so many small communities were without rabbinical support. This made it possible for her to be a rabbi and to preach in a synagogue, but not for a long period. She was soon ordered - like all Jews - into forced labor in a factory. Despite this, she continued her rabbinical work, i.e. she continued to teach and to preach. For more information, see http://www.hagalil.com/deutschland/berlin/rabbiner/jonas.htm.
1938. Tehilla Lichtenstein is the first woman (non-ordained) to serve her congregation as rabbi after death of her husband, Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein. Tehilla Lichtenstein serves as Leader of the Society for Jewish Science from 1938 until her death in 1973.
1951-54. Paula Ackerman (non-ordained) in Meridian, Mississippi, serves as rabbi to a congregation after the death of her husband, Rabbi William Ackerman.
1968. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is founded in Philadelphia based on the ideals of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, a strong advocate of the equality of all persons.
1972. Sally Priesand is the first woman rabbi ordained in the United States by a Jewish theological seminary, Reform Judaisms Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1973. The first Jewish feminist conference convenes in New York City.
1974. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the first woman ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
1979. The Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) Faculty Senate tables the issue of admitting women for the rabbinical training as "provoking unprecedented divisions . . . . The bitter divergence of opinion threatens to inflict irreparable damage."
1983. The Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) Faculty Senate votes to admit women for rabbinical training.
1984. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College faculty vote to admit gay and lesbian students.
Conservative Judaisms Jewish Theological Seminary admits 18 women into its rabbinical program.
1985. Amy Eilberg is ordained the first Conservative woman rabbi.
1987. There are 101 Reform women rabbis, constituting 7% of 1,450 Reform rabbis.
1988. The Jewish Womens Studies Project is begun by students and faculty at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College to promote Womens Studies at that institution
1990. Survey by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform) shows that 57 out of 153 Reform women rabbis work full-time in congregations that belong to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; 16 are Assistant Rabbis, 10 are Associate Rabbis, and 31 are solo Rabbis. There are only 37 Reform women rabbis with the requisite experience making them eligible to become senior rabbi of a congregation of more than 900 members . Three years earlier, there were only 7 women rabbis who were so eligible. As of 1990, no woman rabbi has become senior rabbi of such a large congregation. Only 3 women rabbis head congregations of 300-600 members, while 90 women rabbis have the qualifications to do so.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform) votes to admit openly and sexually active gay men and lesbians to the rabbinate. Earlier, Reconstructionism, Unitarian-Universalists, and the United Church of Christ had begun ordaining lesbians and gay men.
1991. There are 168 women rabbis ordained by the Hebrew Union College (Reform); 40% were ordained during the previous five years; 80% were ordained during the previous ten years. Women rabbis constitute about 10% of Reform rabbis.
1992. Rabbi Susan Grossman is elected as the first woman to serve on the Committee on Law and Standards of Conservative Judaisms Rabbinical Assembly.
1993. Conservative Judaism has ordained a total of 52 women rabbis between 1985 and 1993. Of the total of twenty graduates who were ordained in 1993, eleven were women (55%). June 1993 The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform) has ordained a total of 205 women rabbis. Of the 224 currently enrolled in the Hebrew Union College, 101 are women, constituting 45% of the student body.
1995. Bea Wyler, who had studied at the JTS in New York, became the first woman rabbi in post war Germany at the Jewish community of Oldenburg.
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.
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Daniel P. Faigin <firstname.lastname@example.org>