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Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination 1889-1985 Paperback – October 10, 1999


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Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination 1889-1985 + Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism + The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (October 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807036498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807036495
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,260,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Jewish women have been struggling with the "women's issue" for centuries. They have had unequal rights in marriage and divorce, have not been allowed to worship alongside men in their synagogues or participate in certain rituals, and, of course, could not become rabbis. Slowly, things began to change, and in 1972 Sally Priesand was ordained as the first woman rabbi. In this scholarly work, Nadell (director of the Jewish Studies program, American Univ.) chronicles the history of women's struggles to become rabbis. She starts in 1889, when the journalist and Jewish communal activist Mary M. Cohen proposed in a short story for the Jewish Exponent, "Could not?our women?be?ministers?" and ends with a discussion of the ordination of Orthodox women. The struggle has been a long, rocky, often painful one, and Nadell presents it with insight, careful scholarship, and vivid detail. Highly recommended for Judaic collections.?Marcia G. Welsh, Guilford Free Lib., CT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In a lucid, accessible book on the long struggle for women's ordination to the rabbinate, Nadell brings to life figures, such as Rabiner Regina Jonas and Ray Frank, who have been obscured by accounts that began with the 1972 ordination of Sally Priesand. Nadell makes clear that that event neither began the history of women's ordination in Judaism nor ended controversy about it. She reaches back from 1972 to 1899 and a question posed in a short story: "Could not our women be ministers?" She records responses to that question by carefully examining the struggles for partial, then full, admission of women to major Jewish theological institutions and rabbinical schools. She attends to each strand of U.S. Judaism--Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox--and sets her subject in the context of the concurrent U.S. women's rights struggle. Nadell's work makes a significant story more familiar and contributes to the broader history of women's efforts to fully participate in religious leadership--struggles that continue in many religious traditions Steven Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Pamela Nadell, director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University in Washington, D.C., put together the book, 'Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination: 1889-1985', to trace the path of debate on the topic of women's roles in Judaism with particular emphasis on the issue of ordination. She quotes a reporter in the mid-1970s who declared, with the ordination of Rabbi Sally Priesand in 1972, that Judaism answered the question of women's ordination before it had been asked. Not so, according to Nadell, as she traces the 100+ year-old history of the debate.

In 1889, Mary M. Cohen, a Jewish journalist and activist, raised the question (in print, and on the front page, no less!) through a discussion that 'innocently' raised the question as a legitimate question about ministry. In 1889, this would not have been a question that could be easily asked, and if asked, would most likely be quickly dismissed. When one of the discussion members says that he would have to laugh at seeing a woman in the pulpit, Cohen's protagonist retorted that every good cause is apt to meet with ridicule at first.

The remarkable thing about Cohen's article is the aptitude she showed for anticipating much of the rhetoric and argument that would follow the women's ordination debate for the next century.

Are the people ready for it? Is it permissible by the Torah? Isn't this just a societal innovation out of keeping with the 'timeless truths?' Shouldn't women be happy with their more traditional role? And, if women give up the traditional roles, who will fill them? She wrote sthat Cohen prophesied that this 'thing will be' because so many innovations even by that time had already taken place and, in fact, continued to take place, in American Jewish religious life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam I Am TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Author Pamela Nadell exhaustively documents the history of Jewish women rabbis in America. This is an important aspect of history that hasn't been well-documented in the past, and the publication of this book brings a valuable addition to the small but significant body of work already written about the history of Jewish women rabbis.
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