The role of the Orthodox woman is a juggling act fraught with many responsibilities as she simultaneously manages her family and professional life while maintaining and educating her home in Jewish religious tradition. When she is also a rebbetzin, the rabbi’s wife, performing of additional communal responsibilities can be very rewarding but also quite challenging. Catering to the needs of the community, her duties may include being an educator, fundraiser, matchmaker, hostess, outreach worker and party planner, among others.
To address these concerns, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Engagement and Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future will be presenting the “2015 South Florida Rebbetzins’ Conference: Learning, Sharing, Chizuk (Strength).” This event will give rebbetzins the opportunity to discuss how they can gain individual self-awareness in order to continue developing success in their multi-faceted roles. The conference will be held at the Young Israel of Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday, January 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The OU member synagogue is located at 3291 Stirling Road, Ft. Lauderdale.
A Dvar Torah will be given by Tobi Wolf, assistant principal and teacher of Judaic Studies at Sha’arei Bina Torah Academy for Girls in North Miami Beach.
There will be a panel discussion moderated by Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, Young Israel of Bayside (Queens, NY) and Associate Director of Community Services at the OU’s Department of Community Engagement. The panelists include:
- Rebbetzin Meira Davis, Young Israel of Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale and Coordinator of Personal and Professional Enhancement Program for Rebbetzins at CJF;
- Rebbetzin Yocheved Goldberg, MSW, Boca Raton Synagogue; and
- Rebbetzin Tirtza Schapiro, Beis Menachem of Miami Beach and High School Coordinator at Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach.
Rebbetzin Steinig commented, “This conference is a time for rebbetzins to share their experiences, learn from each other, and give one another chizuk (strength). Rebbetzins of varying levels of experience across the Orthodox spectrum will be in attendance. The purpose of the program is to enable each woman to become aware of her individual strengths and limitations so that she can appropriately prioritize, organize and maximize her effectiveness. ”
Rebbetzin Davis noted, “Today’s world is a very different place from previous generations. A rebbetzin has more roles than her predecessors. Most of today’s younger rebbetzins are engaged in full-time careers in a wide spectrum of professional fields, including education, counseling, social work, law, medicine, business and Jewish communal work. It is a continuing balancing act for them to manage their time to meet their family, community and professional needs.”
The balancing act, according to Rebbetzin Steinig, “differs for each rebbetzin depending on the size of her family, ages of her children, elder care responsibilities and her career. The rabbi and rebbetzin need to work as a team to ensure that the needs of their family, community, and marriage are all being met.”
Referring to larger and smaller communities, Rebbetzin Davis added, “‘ In-town’ and ‘out-of-town’ communities present different challenges. Out-of-town needs can be greater because there may be no other resource available for teaching Taharat Hamishpacha (family purity), kashrut, etc., and for guiding and inspiring women to live a Torah-true life. The rebbetzin’s involvement may be more pivotal there to enhance the growth of the community and the success of her husband’s rabbinic leadership. In larger communities, the rebbetzin may not need to be involved to the same degree because other resources are available.”
She concluded, “This South Florida conference provides rebbetzins with the opportunity to discuss issues of self, family and community in a safe and supportive environment. The interactive workshops offer them the ability to network, develop lasting relationships and nurture a support system”.
Registration cost is $25 (includes catered lunch and program) and is to be completed by December 31, 2014. Online registration is preferred; go to www.oucommunity.org. For more information contact Rebbetzin Judi Steinig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-613-8188; or Rebbetzin Meira Davis at email@example.com or 954-646-6207.