In the 10 years since women were first ordained as rabbis in Reform Judaism, they have become "fully accepted" by congregations across the country, the Central Conference of American Rabbis was told this week.
"We've come to the point where congregational members, when engaging a rabbi, are prepared to consider a woman on the same level as a man," said Rabbi A. Stanley Dreyfus, placement director for CCAR and its counterpart lay organization, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Currently there are 49 women ordained to the rabbinate in Reform Judaism, with nearly 60 more enrolled in the four-year graduate-level program required for ordination.
Rabbi Herman Schaalman of Chicago, president of CCAR, called the movement of women into the rabbinate "an absolutely revolutionary new feature in Jewish life."
Rabbi Joseph Glaser, New York executive vice president of the CCAR, said Reform Judaism's women rabbis are also "being accepted in boards of rabbis around the country," groups which include other branches of Judaism. The Reform movement is the only one of the three main branches of Judaism thus far to approve ordaining women, although there is a strong movement for the acceptance of women in the Conservative rabbinate.
Dreyfus predicted that as the young women rabbis gain experience and maturity they will advance on the same basis as their male counterparts and become senior rabbis in the "major pulpits" of the denomination's prestigious congregations. This year's crop of women graduates, he said, were among the first hired for service in some of the leading congregations.