A Breakthrough on the Upper West Side: Woman to Lead Orthodox Synagogue

August 22, 2006

Source: Religion News Service


On August 22, 2006 Religion News Service reported, " A woman will lead an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Manhattan, in what is seen as a breakthrough in a religious movement that does not ordain women as rabbis. Dina Najman, 38, will be called the 'rosh kehillah' ('head of the community'), not the 'rabbi,' of Kehilat Orach Eliezer, a small congregation on Manhattan's Upper West Side. In her new role, Najman, the mother of three, will teach, rule on questions of religious law and counsel congregants. The congregation, which was founded in 1992, is not affiliated with an Orthodox synagogue association, but is Orthodox in practice. Najman will not lead services or read Torah from the pulpit. Such functions are routinely performed by laymen in many Orthodox synagogues. She also will not officiate at religious ceremonies such as weddings. While the American Reform and Conservative movements ordain women, the Orthodox movement does not. Several large Orthodox synagogues have created formal professional roles for women, with such titles as 'religious mentor,' to provide religious education and counseling. 'I think it is a breakthrough,' said Blu Greenberg, the founding president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. 'But it is not a totally radical departure; it is cumulative.'"