How the Status of American Jewish Women Has Changed Over the Past Decades

, January 15, 2007

No.16,

  • There have been major developments in the role of Jewish women in the United States over the past four decades. The changes are undeniably related to what is happening in American society at large. They have, however, a specifically Jewish flavor and take place in many areas across Jewish life. One among many is the opening of the study of rabbinics and classical Jewish texts to women.
  • Women have risen to public leadership of the Jewish community more completely both in the ritual sphere and in lay positions than in the professional realm. Contrary to intuitive expectations, women have been able to achieve lay and professional leadership roles more rapidly in the religious sphere than in the public, secular one. Lay positions rotate frequently. As a number of women are now close to the top, even more will fill these positions in the coming years.
  • The enfranchisement of Jewish women has greatly enriched American Jewish life. Gender is no longer the essential issue of American Jewry. It is not making news in American Jewish life now except if something changes in the Orthodox community. American Jewish life has moved through a generation of a fairly radical shift toward gender equity to a stage of institutionalization of the new norms.

“Until a few decades ago, Jewish women were literally written out of Jewish history. The Encyclopedia Judaica, published in the 1960s, contained biographies of some women, but in scholarly articles individual women and the role of women as a group were hardly mentioned. In recent years, when revisions were made to this encyclopedia, the editors decided to restore women to Jewish history.

“They appointed Judith Baskin, president of the Association for Jewish Studies and a scholar of medieval literature, to be a ‘gender editor.’ This is very American. I was asked to update more than ten articles specifically on gender issues.”

Since 2000, Rela Mintz Geffen has been president of Baltimore Hebrew University. She is a sociologist of religion who studies the American Jewish community. Geffen observes: “For example, the encyclopedia article on candles did not mention the word woman. The article on kashrut (dietary laws) did not discuss the role of women. In my revision, I pointed out that while supervision and shechita (ritual slaughter) were male tasks, the community had to rely on women to keep the dietary laws as well as to teach their daughters how to observe them. Separation of milk and meat in the kitchen was entirely in the hands of women. Without trust in the faithful execution by women of mitzvoth (commandments) related to kashrut there would have been no observance of the dietary laws or of many aspects of the Jewish calendar such as Passover.

“Research into Inquisition documents has shown that women were strong defenders of Jewish law including kashrut, and that even as crypto-Jews who had been forced into conversion they perpetuated some of the dietary laws whenever possible. The Inquisition tortured more women for that ‘transgression’ than men.”

Boycotting Kosher Butchers

Geffen mentions an early important role of women in American Jewish history. “In the first decade of the twentieth century, Jewish women in New York City successfully organized a boycott of kosher butcher shops to counteract a precipitous rise in the price of kosher meat. They eventually broke the butchers.

“According to the American Jewish activist Paula Hyman, they ‘went so far as to inspect the cholent [Sabbath stew] pots of women en route to the bakery – where the dish was kept warm – on Friday afternoon in order to ensure that the Sabbath meal would be a meatless one . . . they also interrupted synagogue services on the Sabbath in order to gain the support of male worshipers for their cause and to secure rabbinic endorsements.’1 These tactics were the precursors of those of various America labor unions such as the garment workers.”

Geffen adds: “I often think that nowadays, before the Pesach (Passover) and Rosh Hashana (New Year) holidays, we should do something similar so as to counteract the major price increases of kosher food.”

Change over a Short Time

“From the perspective of the social sciences, four decades is not a long time span to see major social change. Yet as far as the role of Jewish women in America is concerned, many changes have taken even less time. I realized that when writing the encyclopedia articles.

“The changed role of women has led to alterations in the complexion of the American Jewish community. There is even a ripple effect to world Jewry. The changes are undeniably related to what is happening in American society at large. Yet they have a specifically Jewish flavor and take place in many areas across Jewish life. One proof of how far it has gone is that at major ultra-Orthodox conferences there are now separate women’s sections. In the past, women would not have been present at all.

“The opening of the study of rabbinics and classical Jewish texts to women is one major area of change. In the past, some Jewish women were able to study. Some came from very wealthy families where their fathers could afford to hire special tutors who visited them at home. Others were women living in homes of scholars, who studied with their fathers, husbands, or brothers. This was the case, for instance, with the Soloveitchiks, a family famous for its scholars. Other women could not follow suit as there were no Jewish schools for them.”

The Pioneer

“Working with Prof. David Halivni, Judith Hauptman received the first PhD in Talmud awarded to a woman at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). This is a very difficult degree to obtain. At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Prof. Ephraim Urbach’s last PhD in Talmud was awarded to Tirzah Meachum, a Canadian woman. I consider these even greater accomplishments than the ordination of female Reform rabbis, which started in 1972 with Sally Priesand.”

In 1965, Geffen was one of the first three women Talmud majors at JTS and wanted to go on for an MA in Talmud. “I was told that this was impossible as all advanced classes were in the rabbinical school. A few years later, matters changed somewhat and Hauptman started to work on an MA in Talmud, which took her ten years. Her PhD followed, and now she is a full professor at JTS.

“There are similar developments in Israel as well. Even if only a few tens of women have such degrees, the access of women to Jewish classics has a great impact. Through university study as well as the excellent classes provided at MaTaN in Jerusalem and the Drisha Institute in New York, some women can access rabbinical sources directly and often have a better Jewish education than their husbands.

“In some Jewish schools in the United States, boys and girls have the same curriculum even if they learn in separate classes. One such modern Orthodox day school is Yeshivat Rambam in Baltimore. Those with coeducational classes such as the Ramaz School in New York and Frisch Academy in New Jersey certainly have the same curriculum. In ultra-Orthodoxy, the Bais Yaacov schools for girls are not only separate but the curriculum for girls is different from that of boys’ schools. “Another major influence stems from the introduction of Jewish studies on many American campuses. During the first half of the twentieth century, many Jewish women did not receive a formal Jewish education. Their access to these studies, particularly since the exponential growth of Jewish day schools and of Jewish studies on hundreds of American college campuses, has greatly advanced their knowledge. Other influential factors are the Internet revolution and trips to Israel. As women are half the population, this affects the tenor of the community very much. One can now find several hundred Jewish women teachers holding doctorates in Jewish studies and being university scholars, which, in turn, impacts the way Jewish history is taught.

“For instance, Elisheva Baumgarten, who lives in Jerusalem, has written an important book that analyzes the position of Jewish women and children in the Middle Ages.2 From now on nobody will be able to write about medieval Jewish history without including issues such as the domestic situation, family life, the role of women, and what childhood was like.”

The Synagogue

“Women have risen to public leadership of the Jewish community in the ritual sphere and in lay positions more than in the professional realm. Shoshana S. Cardin, who recently turned eighty, is the best known. She was the only woman chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Cardin has also chaired the United Israel Appeal and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and has been president of the Council of Jewish Federations (now United Jewish Communities).

“Carol Solomon is the lay head of the Jewish Agency. Another prominent lay leader was the late Esther Leah Ritz, who was chair of the Jewish Community Centers Association. Judy Yudoff was president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Barbara Balser became the first female president of ADL. The Baltimore Federation, a quite sizable one, now has a female chair of the board, Janine Macks Fidler. In 2004, Judge Ellen M. Heller of Baltimore was elected president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“It remains, however, much easier for a woman to become a Reform or a Conservative rabbi or president of a synagogue than the executive director of a federation. There have not been any women executives of large-city federations. There have only been executive directors in smaller federations such as Cindy Chazan in Hartford, Connecticut. At present of the forty largest Jewish Federations, there is only one woman CEO, Janet Engelhart at the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island.

“At the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Hannah Rosenthal held the top executive position for a short time. At the JTS Rabbi Carol Davidson, a vice-chancellor, is the highest female professional; she is in charge of fundraising. At the UJA Federation of New York, Aliza Rubin Kurshan is the number two executive.”

One reason for the overall situation, Geffen suggests, is that the top professional positions of Jewish organizations are filled by executives who remain there for many years. With so little rotation it takes many years to reach the top.

“According to a press release launching their study on the advancement of women professionals in the Jewish community by the United Jewish Communities in 2001, the situation for women in professional positions was lagging. They wrote that

in recent decades, women have made significant strides in business, government, and the non-profit sector. Women have broken through as CEO’s in some of our country’s most significant institutions from the American Red Cross to Brown University. Furthermore, 51% of Foundation CEO’s are women, heading such prestigious organizations as the Ford Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Jewish women are no strangers to this success in the secular world. By contrast, in the organized Jewish communal field, they are lagging dramatically behind.

“A 1994 study of women on Jewish organizational boards commissioned by Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project, a program of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, and conducted by researchers at CUNY Graduate Center, identified forty organizations as major agencies. Of those, only two had women CEOs as of the year 2000. In the same study, more than half of the thirty national organizations that answered a survey question on compensation did not have a woman in their five highest-salaried positions. Gender inequity within the Jewish communal field has long been a subject of controversy and concern.”

Entrepreneurial Women

“One success story is Ruth Messinger, who heads the American Jewish World Service. She is very entrepreneurial and smart. She gave life to a dying institution. In order to get recognized in the Jewish community, however, she had first to become borough president of Manhattan and run for mayor! So if you come from a prominent family, as she does, and you were a serious candidate to become mayor of New York City, you can get an executive position in the Jewish community. This is an indicator of the lack of exploitation of the rich human capital available to the Jewish community.

“In academe there has been great progress. Prof. Jane Gerber was the first woman president of the Association for Jewish Studies. Now, Prof. Judith Baskin holds this position. I am the only female president of a Jewish university or college. Yet there are some female deans at the Jewish Theological Seminary and at Hebrew College in Boston.

“Entrepreneurial women who began new institutions could be at their helm. Gail Twersky Riemer founded the Jewish Women’s Archives. Shifra Bronznick has managed a project and completed a study titled ‘Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community’ on the problem of the glass ceiling for women. Barbara Dobkin, a philanthropist who founded the abovementioned Ma’yan, a women’s study and resource center in New York, together with her husband Eric, donated $1 million to fund the study on the status of Jewish women in the federations.”

Philanthropy

In a previous interview, Geffen said:

For many decades, the philosophy of fundraising was “talk to the man and get the woman out of the way.” This was based on a stereotype that regarded women as selfish, urging their husbands not to give so as to ensure more disposable income for themselves.

Women’s divisions or departments were auxiliary to the main fundraising body. They raised what was called “plus giving.” There were women’s divisions in every city, or what might be called counterpart organizations like B’nai B’rith and B’nai B’rith Women. This was the normative form of Jewish organization. When B’nai B’rith went coed, B’nai B’rith Women seceded, becoming Jewish Women International.

She also said:

Today’s Jewish women also tend to do volunteer work in fields which interest them, such as their children’s schools, pro-choice (if they support that cause), or promoting medical research on illnesses such as breast cancer, lupus, and so forth. Once attracted to such issues, they will give both money and time, even if the latter is difficult to find.3

Now, Geffen remarks: “A major effort has been made by women’s organizations as well as departments of local Jewish federations to bring women into Jewish philanthropy. In almost every city there are women’s giving circles, which can be considered a new ‘in’ thing in the United States. A woman who gives, say, one thousand dollars a year, becomes part of the group that can allocate funds. Many federations have tried to create internal women’s giving circles. There are also many independent circles funding projects that serve women and girls.

“In February 2005, a Baltimore business newspaper reported that:

A trend in the way Americans, particularly women, raise money for charity has taken hold in Greater Baltimore, a new study shows. More people are pooling their resources by forming giving circles to collectively support community development. Giving circles, which range from informal gatherings of a group of friends to national networks functioning as their own nonprofit, have collected more than $44 million nationally since 2000. In Greater Baltimore, 12 giving circles have raised more than $1 million over the last several years.4

“Federations have also reshaped their women’s departments to some extent. They are doing a bit better with professional women. There is still, however, an assumption by federations that people can come to meetings in the middle of the day. One such example that is not atypical is Erika Schon, who chairs the board of Baltimore Hebrew University. She can never go to a federation board meeting as these are held at lunchtime downtown. She works during the day at a school and is not available.

“Some Jewish foundations have a female chief executive. Rachel Cowan, a rabbi, for a while headed the Cummings Foundation. Harlene Appleman, who was very active in Jewish family education in Detroit, now heads the Covenant Foundation, which gives grants and awards in Jewish education.

“Some women are prominent in their own family foundations. Terry Meyerhoff Rubenstein, one of the late Joseph Meyerhoff’s daughters, manages the Meyerhoff Foundation in Baltimore. This is by national standards a very powerful Jewish foundation. Often in past decades the only women who held such positions were widows of philanthropists who assumed power after their deaths. Today Lynn Schusterman, who heads the Schusterman Foundation, one of the major Jewish ones in America, was a partner with her husband in leading the foundation long before his death.

“There are several powerful Jewish women in public life who are not active in the Jewish community. Nevertheless, they may be considered spokespeople for the community when the moment is right. With Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the state of California has two Jewish senators. Among the Supreme Court justices is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She could be a very important spokesperson, but like most Supreme Court justices has chosen to remain circumspect.

“There are also Jewish women presidents of major American universities. The most prominent was Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania, who was the first woman in the United States to head an Ivy League school, and who was succeeded in 2005 by another Jewish woman, Amy Gutmann.”

Religious Leadership

“Religious leadership is another type of public leadership. In the religious sphere women have been able to achieve good positions more easily than in the public, secular one. That is partly because when a woman becomes a rabbi, she automatically steps into a position that confers what sociologists call ‘ascribed status.’ Still, a recent study by Steven M. Cohen and Judith Schor showed that the salaries of female graduates of the JTS rabbinical school are substantially lower than those of men and so are their positions.5

“In recent years in the Reform movement, for the first time a number of female senior rabbis are in charge of major congregations. This has taken a long time. Of course, if a synagogue has a team of rabbis, social workers, and educators, it is quite usual today for one of them to be a woman rabbi. Yet some people want to have a male rabbi lead funerals or perform weddings. Thus, having senior female rabbis is a true breakthrough.

“Many female graduates of rabbinical school-like many men-have gone into educational work and not into pulpits. One increasingly sees more women as principals of day schools, educational directors of synagogues, and chaplains in hospitals.”

Ritual Life

“Besides the public aspect of religion, there is the private one. The former concerns what happens in the synagogue. The latter is what individuals and families do at home in the household. There is a debate about the current role of the home in maintaining a Jewish life. The family is still functioning and powerful. However, it is not necessarily working positively on Jewish matters. For many Jews the synagogue remains the central grassroots Jewish institution in America.

“The Jewish feminist movement began with lifecycle rituals. The bat mitzvah ritual-the coming-of-age of girls- was part of its origins. The story is that on 18 March 1922, the first bat mitzvah was that of Judith Kaplan, the daughter of Mordecai Kaplan who founded the Teachers Institute at the JTS and later Reconstructionism. At the age of twelve, Judith was called to the Torah on Shabbat morning and recited the blessings and read the Maftir portion. She wrote that her own grandparents were shocked by it at the time: “No change in the ritual lifecycle field took place for a long time. However, in the 1950s Jews in large numbers moved to suburbia. This brought the flourishing of the large Conservative and Reform synagogues. The Conservative movement was more important in this case because in the Reform movement, the clergy did everything. There was very little lay participation, either male or female. The Reform movement did away with bar mitzvah, so there was no bat mitzvah either. They instated confirmation for everybody instead. The parents, however, rebelled. One of the first signs of classical Reform’s end was when it started restoring bar mitzvah in the mid-twentieth century. Bat mitzvah was then established as an equivalent coming-of-age ceremony for girls.”

The Conservative Movement

“In the Conservative movement the situation was different. Because of the suburbanization and the strict gender-role segregation still in place after World War II, the vast majority of women stayed home with the children. Women thus managed education, culture, and day-to-day organizational life. They also did all car pooling. The men most often commuted to the city for work, returning home late. Even on Shabbat when they went to synagogue, everything had to be ready for them. So women also had to maintain the infrastructure of the synagogues.

“In 1956, when a religious ruling was requested from the Conservative movement’s law committee about whether women could be called to the Torah, there were very different opinions. Some members said they could not, others ruled that they could, but only after seven men. Yet others found that they could, from the third person onward. Several minority opinions were adopted by the Committee on Law and Standards. The result was that each rabbi, as mara d’atra (local religious decisor), could decide the policy for his own synagogue.

“In practice very little happened. In a survey I undertook for Outlook, the Jewish Women’s League’s magazine in the early 1970s, I wrote to sisterhoods all over the country and sent them a questionnaire. One question was whether women could be called up to the Torah, and under what circumstances. At most, ten synagogues in the whole United States answered in the affirmative. Even then, for several it was only on special occasions.

“The bat mitzvah only became normative in American Conservative synagogues in the 1960s. But it was still optional and only in a few places did it take place on Shabbat morning. In most synagogues it was on Friday night. It was thus neither here nor there.”

Ezrat Nashim

“The general feminist movement came onto the American scene in the early 1970s. Among its leaders were important Jewish women. Most did not care about Judaism at all. At the same time, there were many Jewish women who cared about Judaism but not about feminism. Thus there was no synthesis until-in one location within a few short blocks-a group was formed of women who were both feminists and Jewishly learned and cared very much about traditional observance. Several of them had begun to study classical texts in a serious way in the late 1960s.

“This happened around the nexus of Columbia University and the JTS. Many of them came out of Camp Ramah, and the development was also connected to the beginning of the havurah movement. Many suburban synagogues had become large and impersonal. Founders of the havurah movement sought to create groups that would study, pray, and celebrate together in a more personally committed way. On some campuses, members of the havurot even lived together in communal housing.

“Many social movements were formed at that time, such as those that tried to get the federations to fund Jewish education and stop funding hospitals. All this was related to the situation in American society at large, the Vietnam War, the feeling President Kennedy engendered that people could make a difference in the world, and the general 1960s atmosphere. It was very American, but it was also very Jewish.

“Then several Jewish women formed what was called a women’s consciousness-raising group in the early 1970s. They met once a week and that date was firm. The unspoken social rule until then was that if a man called, you broke your appointment with a woman. But you never broke your date with your consciousness-raising group.

“Ten or twelve women started this group called Ezrat Nashim. They could do so because the world was ready to be changed. Several were doctoral students at Columbia and JTS, observed Shabbat, and went to synagogue. The New York Post interviewed one of them, Paula Hyman, who now has a chair at Yale, and asked her: ‘How is it that you turn into a different person on the weekend?’ At Columbia she was an active feminist working on her doctorate in Jewish history. However, on Shabbat she would go to the seminary synagogue for services and sit separately in the women’s section.

“Initially, study was the key to everything. One group member was Hauptman, who had advanced knowledge of the Talmud. The group studied all sections of it that had to do with women. As a result of their study, by the end of the first year they became radicalized. In the second year, they continued and started to do projects such as collecting books about Jewish women, writing birth ceremonies for baby girls and nonsexist holiday stories for Jewish children.”

Presenting a Manifesto

“They finally wrote a manifesto, with a very ringing tone to it, and decided to present it to a group of rabbis. They went to a meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills. They asked permission to be let into the conference to address the rabbis, which was refused. So they called a meeting of all the rabbis’ wives in the main lobby. They had alerted the media, and the New York Post and New York Times were there and all read their manifesto.

Response magazine gave the guest editorship of one issue to the women of Ezrat Nashim in 1972. Neal Kozodoy, who now edits Commentary, was then its editor and Elizabeth Koltun was the guest editor for the special issue. A series of articles were published that became a bible of the Jewish feminist movement. Many of the articles had first been written as presentations for a conference in New York cosponsored by Network, which was an organization of Jewish college students. One focus was on lifecycle rituals, another on the role of women in Jewish public life.

“The group was very upset about the way Jewish girls were welcomed into the world. One of their first projects was the creation of simchat bat (rejoicing over a girl) material-it was not yet called that at the time-and injecting it into American Jewry as a parallel to brit mila, the male circumcision ceremony. It quickly became necessary to explain why one had not had a ceremony to welcome a baby girl. Everybody was ready for it.

“Until then hardly any rabbis had acted to implement the 1956 Conservative responsum on calling women to the Torah. In 1973, when the law committee decided to permit the counting of women in the religious quorum of ten that can enable community prayers, within six months about half the country’s Conservative synagogues were calling women to the Torah.

“Ritual has changed dramatically because of women becoming part of the service. One example is that in many synagogues both professionals and lay people now read the Torah. Women got so excited about being allowed to do it that many women and men learned how to chant the cantillations.

“Women’s greater prominence in the lifecycle ritual had various repercussions. Besides having ceremonies for baby girls, mothers were now more included in the ceremonies for baby boys, and both boys and girls were called the children of both parents when their Hebrew names were used. Ceremonies for baby girls would only take place once the mother was there for the naming ceremony. Also the bat mitzvah became normative. The previous situation was that in suburbia women often did all the preparation for various joyous celebrations, but when it came to the actual ceremony, they were not necessarily able to participate or even to be in the room.

“Another important field is divorce. In the Conservative movement, both parties to the ketuba, the wedding contract, agree that they will submit to the decision of any religious court appointed by the JTS with regard to dissolving the marriage. It is thus not that you agree to accept a divorce if the other party asks for it, but you accept the decision of the court. The Reform movement accepts civil divorce as binding.”

Modern Orthodoxy

“The concept of prenuptial agreements has also been accepted in the modern Orthodox movement. Many Orthodox rabbis have the bride and groom sign a separate agreement. Some rabbis will not officiate at a wedding if there is no such agreement.

“Rather suddenly, many modern Orthodox rabbis also realized that there were no halakhic problems with home ceremonies for baby girls. They increasingly started permitting inclusion of women and girls when they felt they could do so within halakhah, both to be more inclusive and to show that they weren’t antifeminist. For example, if a synagogue could be architecturally designed so that women could see the service, they tried to have this done. They also encouraged public celebration of bat mitzvah, often with the girl giving a learned presentation from the pulpit after the service or at a luncheon or dinner that followed.

“Some Orthodox women were involved in the Jewish feminist movement from the beginning. Of these, Blu Greenberg remains the most important. Dr. Norma Joseph is a leading Canadian Orthodox feminist.”

Geffen says that she collects bat mitzvah invitations from the Orthodox community. “Sometimes this ceremony is called Bat Torah. The ultra-Orthodox world has to react to this because it is so powerful. They often do so very negatively. A more recent development among the modern Orthodox is that rabbis hire female assistants. These are qualified rabbinic interns from places like Drisha, a woman’s Talmudic study institute in New York. In Israel, the training and functioning of the to’anot-rabbinic court advocates for women-parallels this development. Every other year for the last ten years the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) has held conferences attended by thousands of modern Orthodox Jewish women and men. Their mission statement says:

JOFA is a grassroots non-profit organization established in 1997 to educate and advocate for women’s increased participation in Orthodox Jewish life and to create a community for women and men dedicated to such change. An invaluable resource for a community constantly balancing tradition and modernity, JOFA is guided by the principle that halakhic Judaism offers many opportunities for observant Jewish women to enhance their ritual observance and to increase their participation in communal leadership.

“To sum up: the enfranchisement of Jewish women has greatly enriched American Jewish life. I think gender is no longer the essential issue of American Jewry. It is not making news in American Jewish life right now except if something changes in the Orthodox community. The other exception is that in the area of public secular life there remains a dearth of women professionals. The only way that gender makes Jewish news now is when something really unexpected occurs. Egalitarianism has become so pervasive and normative in American Jewish life that it rarely makes headlines.”

Interviewed by Manfred Gerstenfeld

*     *     *

Rela Mintz Geffen has been the president of Baltimore Hebrew University since 2000. Before that she was professor of sociology and coordinator of the programs in Jewish communal service at Gratz College in Philadelphia, where she served as dean for academic affairs for five years. She is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, and her PhD in sociology is from the University of Florida. She is a board member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Her most recent book, Conservative Judaism: Dilemmas and Challenges, was coauthored with the late Daniel Elazar and published by SUNY Press in 2000.

*     *     *

Notes

1. Paula E. Hyman, “Gender and the Immigrant Jewish Experience in the United States”, in Judith R. Baskin, ed. Jewish Women in Historical Perspective (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), 234-35.

2. Elisheva Baumgarten, Mothers and Children: Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe (Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).

3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Rela Mintz Geffen, “Sociological Changes in the Community,” in American Jewry’s Challenge (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 209-19.

4. Kate Milani, “Study: Giving Circles Growing,” Baltimore Business Journal, 9 February 2005.

5. Steven M. Cohen and Judith Schor, “Gender Variation in the Careers of Conservative Rabbis: A Survey of Rabbis Ordained since 1985,” Rabbinical Assembly, New York, 2004.

Rela Mintz Geffen

Rela Mintz Geffen has been the president of Baltimore Hebrew University since 2000. Before that she was professor of sociology and coordinator of the programs in Jewish communal service at Gratz College in Philadelphia, where she served as dean for academic affairs for five years. She is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, and her PhD in sociology is from the University of Florida. She is a board member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.