Rosh Hashanah 5738/1977 in Victoria

Egalitarian services 1977

Dr. Rick Kool, Congregation Emanu-El Cemetery Director forwarded the above article published on the day before Rosh Hashanah (1977) by the Victoria Times with the remark “Our Congregation has been making significant changes and opening up new approaches to Conservative Judaism for a long time”. It seems likely that the Victoria Times article refers to the first participation by women in High Holy Day services in Victoria.

In 1973, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism approved the following motion: Men and women should be counted equally for a minyan. The Scribe 2012 records the following comment by Rabbi Daniel Siegel:
“It was during my tenure (1974-1976) that we began the process by which the congregation became egalitarian. Out of respect to those who were not in favour, we established an alternating week schedule where we gave aliyot [the honour of being called to the Torah] to women half the time. With only two exceptions that I can remember, everyone who came to shul came every week, regardless of which week in the rotation it was. It was an amazing experience to stand next to women as they received their first-ever aliyot and got to look into the Torah scroll from so close, an experience that often moved them to tears.”

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