Sometimes I think about Beruriah in the Talmud, thousands of years ago -- an extremely learned woman who had no place or context in which to offer her Torah. I feel extremely fortunate to be living in an historical moment when women are rabbis, and I so appreciate earlier generations of women's leadership who made it that much easier for those of us who followed.
There are whole areas of Jewish Scholarship that have only been opened up because of women scholars and rabbis. Parts of the Arts, music, literature and other forms of creativity concerning women's experiences have only been made possible because of the presence of women rabbis, artists and teachers. Women's leadership has added immeasurably to the richness of Jewish life and experience around the world.
My dad, Shamai Kanter, zichrono livracha, was a rabbi, serving as an Air Force chaplain and then in two congregations. My brother, Rabbi Raphael Kanter, is the spiritual leader of a New Bedford, MA community, where he has been for almost 25 years.
I met my husband, Michael, when he was in rabbinical school. At the time, JTS hadn't opened up to women yet, and I was studying for my master's degree. The extended family takes rabbis as a given; while lawyers and doctors are exotic.
Rabbi Elana Kanter is co-rabbi of The New Shul and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute.