I have just finished reading Michael Mill’s
article, “Cultures Can Be
Changed” (Spring 2012).
I endorse every word about
men being part of the whole
rather than loners. What
puzzles and intrigues me,
however, is what I don’t read.
Unless my eyeglasses need
changing, the word
“woman” doesn’t appear
once in the entire text. As
a result, the article sounds
exactly like what appeared n the monthly
newsletter put out by the Conservative synagogue
my family attended in Chicago 75 to
80 years ago.
Yes, my father was active in the men’s club,
but my mother predated him by almost half
a decade with her membership in the sisterhood.
In those prehistoric times, women
were virtually shut out for membership on
the board of directors. Incidentally, I don’t
find the word sisterhood – a term often
denigrated in the 21st century as a relic of
bygone eons – anywhere in the article. Am
I missing something?
What fractures me most of all is the Grand
Canyon-size chasm between the article and
the cover of the same issue of CJ, an overt
plug for women’s participation in synagogue
hierarchy. Shouldn’t you be functioning on
the same wavelength?
DAVID R. MOSS
Los Angeles, California
In D. Korenstein's letter to the editor in
the Spring 2012 issue, the
author writes the his synagogue
“hired a senior
woman rabbi. Within a few
years a significant portion
of the membership was
gone.” I object to the automatic
assumption that the
cause of the declining membership
was attributable to
the hiring of a woman rabbi.
Many synagogues are experiencing
shrinking membership numbers.
The causes are demographic, philosophical,
financial, religious, etc. Many are consolidating, closing, or otherwise changing.
My own is considering a wonderful rabbi
who happens to be female. The Reform temple
has doubled in membership during the
current term of their rabbi, a woman whom
everyone there loves.
Look at the true issues that drive membership,
especially the relevancy of the synagogue
in peoples’ lives. The argument that
it has much to do with gender is underresearched
Light Unto the Nations
I heartily agree with Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser’s
proposal (“Acknowledging American Exceptionalism,”
Spring 2012). I have long felt that
the United States was given the mission to
be a light unto the nations. Despite its struggles
with various human failings, it has to
some extent already achieved that goal. There
is hope that as time passes, it will move
further in that direction. It would be well to
adopt the Harachaman prayer suggested by
DR. STANLEY SCHEINDLIN
More About That Cover
I read with great interest the letters to the editor
stemming from the cover photo of the
Winter 2011/2012 issue. The photo
prompted a fascinating colloquy between me
and my rabbi, which served to uncover some
false preconceptions (I presumed – wrongly
– that it was a picture of two men holding
hands) and led to some solid learning that
touched on the custom and practice of wearing
tefillin, current gender issues within the
Conservative rabbinate, and more. I suggest
that the photo itself has enduring didactic
value, one I would certainly like to put
into play in my shul’s School of Jewish Studies.
I think showing it to children within our
movement and asking them what they see in
it will lead to many fruitful conversations
about important issues of Conservative Jewish
thought and practice.
JOEL F. BROWN
Past President, Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation
Having been a member of the Laurelton Jewish
Center for more than 50 years, until its
closing several years ago, I resent that Ellen
Levitt (Spring 2012) made Bernie Madoff
seem to be its only claim to fame. There
was much more to our history than Madoff.
Rabbis Saul Teplitz and Howard Singer
were our religious leaders. Dr. Morton Siegel,
who became director of education at United
Synagogue, was principal of our huge Hebrew
school. Other former Laureltonians who have
contributed positively to our society should
have been cited, rather than that one disgrace
of a man. While there is not a Laurelton Jewish
Center any longer, just look around the
Jewish United States and Israel and you will
find former LJC students in leadership positions.
I am an example. Having been a vice
president at LJC I am now a vice president
at Congregation B’nai Sholom Beth David,
one of the most vibrant Conservative synagogues
in the New York area.
And by the way I still live in Laurelton.
Laurelton, New York