The following are remarks made by JOFA founding Board Member Zelda R. Stern announcing the initiative to fund a Maharat position in the National Synagogue in Washington, DC
By Zelda R. Stern
Parshat Behar, which we read this past Shabbat, was my Bat-Mitzvah Parshah. Having been raised along with my five siblings in a Conservative Jewish home, I was privileged to celebrate a Bat-Mitzvah, something not yet done in 1962 in the Orthodox world. And I was fortunate that my parents rejoiced in the Bat Mitzvah celebrations of my three sisters and me and afforded us the same dignity and value as they did the Bar-Mitzvahs of my two brothers.
In my 20s I became more observant, and finally, in my late 20s, declared myself Orthodox, having fallen in love with the richness and depth of learning and ritual I found in the Orthodox world.
I continued on my journey, but in my late 40s began to feel increasing discomfort with the way women were excluded from so much of Orthodox life.