North America’s first female rabbi was ordained 50 years ago. What’s changed since then?

From left: Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides of Calgary, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein of Toronto, and Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold of Montreal.

Exactly 50 years ago today, on June 3, 1972, Sally Priesand broke ground as the first-ever female rabbi ordained in North America. But even half a century later, rabbis who happen to be women still face different expectations, treatment and discrimination than their male counterparts.

To talk about what’s changed, what hasn’t and what life is like as a female rabbi, we’ve assembled a panel for a special hour-long discussion the subject. What’s changed in the last 50 years? What hasn’t? How do congregations of different denominations react? What work still needs to be done?

To examine these issues, we assembled a panel for Bonjour Chai comprising three experts from across the country: Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, Canada’s first and longest-serving female Rabbi in Canada, who was ordained in 1983; Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold, the first Orthodox Jewish woman to serve as synagogue clergy in Canada; and Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides, an independent, non-denominational rabbi in Calgary.

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Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Michael Fraiman is the producer. Andre Goulet is the technical producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.