Had one of my senior colleagues not posted it to Facebook, I would have missed this anniversary entirely – such is the arrogance of youth. October 24th is the 30th anniversary of the vote which gave women the right to be ordained as Conservative Rabbis. As many of you heard two shabboses ago, 30 years ago I was still flitting back and forth between the Conservative and Orthodox movements and I do not even recall this decision registering with me at the time. I cannot imagine that it was talked about at the Modern Orthodox High School which I was attending, and it would be years before I saw a woman on the pulpit.
But now, aware and appreciative, I am so very grateful to those who fought so that I could serve. Years ago, in conversation with my dear friend and congregant Hadassah Gordis (now on aliyah in Israel), she recalled how her brother, the late Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary Gerson Cohen battled for years to push forward the ordination of women as Conservative rabbis, even at the cost of his own health.
Chancellor Cohen and many others helped shape, by the force of their will and belief in the rightness of their cause, a new era in Conservative Judaism. It is an anniversary for us to share because we are all the beneficiaries of this historic vote of the JTS faculty. The rabbis in my life who are women have brought incredible scholarship, friendship, warmth, humanity, mentorship, spirituality and dynamism to me. I am indebted to them and to those who made their presence possible.