(JTA) -- An Ohio congregation has become what is perhaps the first Open Orthodox synagogue to elect an all-female slate of officers.
At its annual meeting on June 26, the Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst, Ohio, elected five women to the board.
Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, executive director of the New York-based Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, told the Cleveland Jewish News that to the best of her knowledge, there has never been an all-female board in the Orthodox community in the United States.
The modern Orthodox synagogue elected its first female president, Murial Weber, in 2013. Weber will now serve as treasurer while Arlene Holz Smith will take over as president. The others elected to the board are Alanna Cooper and Gloria Jacobson as vice presidents and Ellen Worthington as secretary.
“What drew me to Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai was the fact that it’s a place where we were able to balance real inclusivity with traditional Orthodoxy,” Smith said. “The environment created by Rabbi [Zachary] Truboff is one that welcomed, encouraged, nurtured and mentored our daughter, and he has created a home at Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai.”
Truboff was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Open Orthodox seminary (a controversial stream that considers itself the true Modern Orthodoxy) in New York whose graduates are not recognized by the Orthodox Rabbinic Council of America. The Smiths’ daughter, Ramie, recently was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in New York -- the first yeshiva to ordain women as Orthodox Jewish clergy. Both institutions were founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, New York, a longtime advocate for expanding women's roles in synagogues.
The late Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, son-in-law of the "father" of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and dean of the Har Etzion hesder yeshiva in Israel, was more careful in his approach to feminist issues, saying : "Normative absolutes are the essence of Torah and our status as commanded spiritual beings the bedrock of our relation to the Ribbono Shel Olam. Consequently, in relating to egalitarian ideology, there is no alternative to clearly recognizing and candidly asserting that, as a system, it is, for us, wholly untenable...[W]e cannot encounter egalitarianism on its turf but, regardless of what is currently politically correct, must rather confront it with our own truth."