THE ELUSIVE WOMAN EDUCATOR
To the Editor:
I was very surprised to see that Dr. Elliot Spack, executive director of the Coalition on Alternatives in Jewish Education (CAJE), feels that women have made advances in Jewish education. [LILITH #18] While it may be true that there are more women principals than before, my observations have led me to believe that because of the current demographics, most of these positions are part-time, even those that were formerly full-time. In addition, while it may be true that two-thirds of the members of CAJE are women, it is also true that CAJE (much to its credit) is trans-professional, and its membership is comprised of teachers and lay people, as well as supervisory personnel.
If one looks at the numbers of women who are active in the Council for Jewish Education (CJE) a trans-denominational professional organization for full-time Jewish educational administrators, and at the numbers of women who are members of the Bureau Directors Fellowship (BDF), one will see a very different picture.
Only one of the 10 officers of the CJE for 1987-88 is a woman; only five out of 31 members of the board of directors are women, and there has never been a woman president. All the women’s terms expire by 1988 In addition, there is only one woman on the 14-member editorial board of the CJE publication Jewish Education, and she is responsible for “Juvenile Book Reviews.”
Of the 49 central agencies for Jewish education in the United States and Canada which comprise the 1987-88 BDF; only 10 members are women; of these, only two are in large cities, and one of them is acting director None of the women are in Canada.
There are many more women than ever before on the “frontlines” as teachers and even as part-time principals in congregations, but on the “upper echelon” community- level, where decisions concerning policy, funding and priorities are set, it is still as I described it in a public forum at the February, 1987 BDF meeting — an old boys’ network.
Rabbi Ilene Schneider
IS GOD A WOMAN?
To the Editor:
My wife and I are long-term subscribers to your fine magazine. After all this time, I just noticed in the current issue something that may have always been there, and I would like to bring to your attention.
I was reading the fine-print explanation of the name LILITH at the bottom of “The Prepared Table” and was surprised to see the gender-specific pronoun “He” used to refer to God.
Were I to read the passage on Lilith out loud, I would probably change it to “After the Holy One created the first human being. The Holy One created a woman.” While it may not be as precise a translation, I feel comfortable that it is an accurate interpretation.
A very important teaching of Judaism is that God is not a man; God is not a woman; God is not an animal or an object.
JEWS, ANTI-SEMITES AND ARABS
To the Editor:
Having just returned (to Israel) this past summer from a guest professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, I was interested to read Sherry Chayat’s article on anti-Semitic jokes, slurs and behaviors associated with the image of the “Jewish American Princess” on American university campuses. [Lilith #17] I also can attest to the shocking presence of ugly, nefarious anti-Semitic graffiti at U. Penn., a school with a significant, diverse and active Jewish student population (sometimes, so I heard, called JewPenn in various circles for that reason).
Sherry Chayat has characterized “most young Jewish women on [American university campuses as] the daughters of parents who have ‘made it’…their feeling is they’ve earned the right to show it off.” To the extent that the appearance of anti-Semitic graffiti and related behavior reflects group phenomena, and not isolated, individual acts, we need to evaluate intergroup relations and publicize the results of our studies, as Prof. Gary Spencer of Syrucuse University apparently is doing.
I should like to add that upon my return to Ben-Gurion University, I was similarly shocked and saddened by the presence of obscene anti-Arab graffiti in our university restrooms, similar in many ways to the anti-Semitic varieties I saw in the U.S. This topic needs to be addressed publicly as well. We need to be vigilant as a people, so it appears, in both areas, in order to avoid being victimized in the Diaspora and assuming the part of oppressive victimizer here. Both roles are, I believe, equally reprehensible.
Dr. Mark Gelber
Be’er Sheva, Israel