As we reported last week, a group of 25 large Conservative synagogues calling themselves HaYom: The Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism has formed to pressure the USCJ [the congregational arm of the movement] into becoming a “synagogue organization that truly speaks to the needs of our congregations and community on every level, both here and in Israel.” Their founding and subsequent announcements were signed by the rabbis and presidents of 25 large Conservative synagogues. As we learn in their latest dispatch, these shuls were chosen “based upon the size of their dues obligation in order to create a climate in which the leaders of the USCJ would come to the table quickly and begin a dialogue.” We also learn that the shuls collectively contributed $25,000 to the new coalition. In other words, these are the shuls with the money, and therefore the power.
As fascinating as all of this might be to Conservative movement watchers, I found something else more interesting (and irritating, and unsurprising). Here’s the list of signatories to the new coalition (rabbi followed by president/s). What do you notice?
Rabbi Richard Camras Barry Wolfe
Rabbi Mark Cooper Barry Bearg Peter Drucker
Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove Steven M. Friedman
Rabbi Menachem Creditor Jeff Rosenbloom
Rabbi Alexander Davis Marshall Lehman
Rabbi Ed Feinstein Andrew Hyman
Rabbi Wayne Franklin Nathan Beraha
Rabbi Baruch Frydman Kohl
Rabbi Bill Gershon Hylton Jonas
Rabbi Felipe Goodman David Steinberg
Rabbi Bill Hamilton Noah Roffman
Rabbi David Kalender Edward Weiss
Rabbi Joseph Krakoff Brian Hermelin
Rabbi Harold Kravitz Judy Cook
Rabbi Alan Lucas Susan Zelman
Rabbi Jack Moline Evelina Moulder
Rabbi Joel Rembaum Diane Shapiro
Rabbi David Rosen Stuart Wilson
Rabbi Phil Scheim Carrie Orfus Gelkopf
Rabbi Michael Siegel Jay Goodgold
Rabbi Alan Silverstein Bill Lipsey
Rabbi Barry Starr Arthur Spar
Rabbi David Steinhardt Roger Leavy Fred Weiss
Rabbi Gordon Tucker Mark Zeichner
Rabbi Steve Weiss Dick Myers
Rabbi Irvin Wise Nina Paul
Rabbi David Wolpe Kurt Smalberg
Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin Fred Wolfson
Hazzan Jacob Ben Zion Mendelson
Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi
Hazzan David Propis
Number of men? 54. Number of women? 6. Number of rabbis who are women? 0.
If we take this list as even somewhat representative, even (or especially) just representative of large, American Conservative synagogues, women appear to make up a mere 10% of the top synagogue leadership and 0% of the clergy.
These are the rabbis and synagogues that pull the purse strings, get the PR, and wield power in the movement, such that congregations have any power in the Conservative movement anyway. And women appear to be largely absent from that scene.
It’s not, as some will say, simply because women have only been ordained in the Conservative movement since 1985 and therefore haven’t made their way to the “top” congregations yet. What are the barriers to women’s election/appointment to the presidencies of large synagogues? Grump.