By Sandra Cuttler, October 2013
When my children were growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, we belonged to a “traditional” synagogue, which some people would call “Conservadox.” During the many years that we were members, the synagogue did not allow females to read from the Torah during services.
It was important to me that my daughter Jessica read from the Torah on her bat mitzvah. At her b’nai mitzvah in Israel, both Jessica and her cousin Aaron read from the Torah and participated equally in leading the service.
Eleven years ago we started a new Conservative equalitarian synagogue, Or Hadash, in our suburb with two Rabbis who are married to each other, Rabbi Doctor Analia Bortz and Rabbi Mario Karpuj. The Rabbis conduct the service equally and smoothly – sometimes one of them leads a particular prayer and next week the other one might lead that prayer. The Rabbis are full partners and equal leaders as they lead and teach the congregation. They symbolize how men and women can both participate equally in Judaism on every level. Women at Or Hadash read from the Torah during services, wear tallitot and attend Torah and Talmud classes where they hold their own in arguments in interpretations of the texts.
Now I have two grandchildren, Bella and Jacob, who are “daveners” at Tot Shabbat at Or Hadash. Bella and Jacob are only fourteen months apart and will celebrate their B’nai Mitzvah in ten years at Or Hadash. We will no longer have to “escape” from our synagogue so that the boys and girls can participate equally in their B’nai Mitzvah service.
I am fortunate to live in a community of committed Jews that created the “new light” of equalitarianism that I can proudly pass on to Bella and Jacob.
Technology Attorney with EarthLink in Atlanta, Georgia
Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee, Atlanta Chapter
Member of Or Hadash
Proud Savta of Bella and Jacob