The first step is to put women in positions of leadership, but the second step that is so crucial yet often not taken is to recognize those women for their influence on society, to give them the credit that they have not gotten for centuries. This is an easy step to miss because many people believe that the positions are enough, that the actions they bring are enough to keep unrest at bay. This is not true because the sheer existence of powerful women must be acknowledged so that other women know that such power and leadership is possible.
We decided to select 50 of the most influential women rabbis in America, plus five in Israel, for this inaugural Sisterhood 50 list. These women span generations and the denominational spectrum; they are pulpit rabbis, teachers, academics, pastoral caregivers and organizational leaders. All of them have made it their life’s work to put Jewish values into action — and, as a result, are changing lives in and beyond their communities. This alphabetical list contains a lot of “firsts,” which is evidence of just how much ground there’s been to break in recent years.