Opening Plenary: Voices of Change
Sponsored by Sharon and Steven Lieberman.
Welcome to this morning’s openingplenary—Voices of Change. Since the first JOFA conference in 1997, we havebeen involved in championing the changing roles ofwomen in the Jewish community. We have seen seis-mic changes in women’s learning, women’s involve-ment in ritual and leadership, and an ever-expandingacceptance of shifting family realities and roles.
This morning we give voice to those changes byhighlighting four individuals who each represent amoment in time in JOFA’s history. Ronnie Becher willspeak about the early days of the organization andthe shifting wind that allowed for the formation ofJOFA. Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the first man to speak at a JOFA plenary, will focus on the generation of men and rabbis who stepped forward with the under-standing that JOFA’s issues were not “women’s issues”alone, but were issues that faced the entire commu-nity. Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold will addressthe changing roles of women of her generation andthe questions with which they struggle. Our youngestspeaker, Leah Sarna, a current college student, will speak to the future and what this generation hopes tofulfill in their lifetime.
We are grateful to be able to say we are lookingback at so much that has been accomplished andhumbled by what yet remains to be accomplished.Each of these voices has added one more thread tothe tapestry that is the rich and varied fabric of theJewish community. We are so delighted that you arejoining us as we hear from these voices of change—and hope that today, at the conference, you will add your voice as well.
Judy Heicklen is the President of JOFA. She earned a BA in Economics from Princeton University and an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. She is a Managing Director at Credit Suisse and the mother of two daughters and a son. She also serves on the Boards of the Drisha Institute and the Halachic Organ Donor Society.
Bat Sheva Marcus, PhD is one of the founders and the Clinical Director of The Medical Center for Female Sexuality. The Center, founded in 2000, is dedicated to helping women with a wide variety of sexual issues and has three centers in New York, in Westchester, NYC and Great Neck. Bat Sheva earned her PhD in Human Sexuality at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Marcus also holds a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University as well... Read More →
Abigail Tambor volunteered for JOFA for many years before joining the board, working on branding, Shabbat T'lamdeini, The JOFA Journal editorial committee and as co-chair of the 6th International Conference Program Committee in 2007. She currently serves on the boards of JOFA, Yeshivat Maharat, Penn Hillel and Yavneh, a Partnership Minyan on the Upper East Side, where she also serves as Gabbait. She has been dedicated to developing greater opportunities and leadership roles for Women in... Read More →
A founding member of JOFA, Ronnie Becher served as Executive Vice President of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale for over twenty years. She was an active member of the Womens Tefilla of Riverdale and currently is on the board of Shachar, the Riverdale Partnership Minyan. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, Ronnie was a Wexner Heritage Fellow. She currently serves as the Educational Director of Beth El Nursery School in Westchester, N.Y. and is the President of JECA, the... Read More →
Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold recently joined Montreal’s Congregation Shaar Hashomayim as the Director of Education and Spiritual Enrichment. Previously, she served for six years as the Education and Ritual Director at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. Rachel (pronounced “Rakhel”) is a founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project, serves on the editorial board of the JOFA Journal, and was recognized as one of Chicago JUF ‘s “36 Under 36”. Rachel received her... Read More →
Rabbi Asher Lopatin is the President of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, the leading modern and open Orthodox rabbinical school in America, with over 85 alumni and 33 current students in a full-time, four-year course of study. For 18 years he served as the spiritual leader of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago. He received his ordination from Rav Ahron Soloveichik and Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, and from Yeshiva University in New York as a... Read More →
Leah Sarna is a senior Philosophy major at Yale University. She is a gabbai and co-director of Minyan Urim, the partnership Minyan at Yale, and a former co-president of Young Israel House at Yale, the Orthodox Community. She also co-directs Dwight Hall: the Center for Public Service and Social Justice at Yale and is a former co-director of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. Leah founded and now directs the only storage facility for the belongings of homeless individuals in New... Read More →
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