Historic Moment for the Conservative Movement

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Yesterday, the Rabbinical Assembly elected Rabbi Julie Schoenfeld to be their next Executive Vice President, the highest administrative position in the organization.

This is the first time a woman has been selected to be the head of any rabbinical organization in history. Not only is that significant in its own right, but now, Schoenfeld is going to be one of the three figureheads of the movement, along with Chancellor Arnold Eisen at the Jewish Theological Seminary and whoever replaces Rabbi Jerome Epstein as the Executive Vice President at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

I’m no expert on how this will effect policy in the movement, but I can assume that this does bring in a new era into the movement. Though women have been permitted into the Conservative rabbinical schools since the early 1980s, we are only really an age where women have impressive enough resumes in the movement to gain high end positions within the movement.

I don’t say that in a chauvinistic way. What I mean by that is if women only starting going to Rabbinical school in the 1980s, they are only hitting the prime of their careers now. It would not have been possible to elect Schoenfeld even 10 years ago.

But good for the Rabbinical Assembly. The Conservative movement needs a kick in the pants sometimes to jump start excitement for itself.  Electing Arnold Eisen was a step in the right direction because of his outsider status.  Now Schoenfeld proves that the movement is trying to recreate itself.

By the way, if anyone was counting at home, my dad seconded the motion to elect her.  Moses represent.

Posted on October 30, 2008

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