Women Accepted as Rabbis in Conservative Judaism in U.S.

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In the United States, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism formally announces that they will begin to accept women as rabbis. Consisting of 1,150 members, Rabbinical Assembly is the governing body of Conservative Judaism for the entire world. The vote in favor of having female rabbis is 70%, an impressive margin.

The first female candidate for rabbi in Conservative Judaism will be Amy Eilberg, a self-proclaimed "Jewish feminist." She has been working for 10 years to get to this point and says:

"As of today, Jewish women need never again feel that their gender is a barrier to their full participation in Jewish life. ...I want to stress that women have a particular and unique contribution to make to Judaism, both on the level of leadership and on the level of laity. ...

This is something I've worked for and waited for for many years, and it's exciting to see it come to fruition. My family background prepared me both to want to explore my Judaism and ot make it an important part of my life adn to consider the possibility of moving into a leadership role."

In response to questions about conservative Jews who object to women serving as rabbis, Amy Eilberg says:

"This is a profound change in Jewish history ... I for one would not fault anyone who, on an emotional level, felt uncomfortable with this change at first. ... But in my experience the concept of rabbinical leadership of women is more threatening than the reality of women rabbis. ...

It's my sense, and that of the majority of rabbis in the movement, that although the full equality of women was not a priority for the generation in which the Talmud was written, we feel quite sure that the rabbinic tradition is meant to evolve. this is an issue that requires the tradiiton to use its creative potential to respond to a new reality."
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