CHARLESTON, SC Mt. Pleasant high school senior, Elizabeth Levi, is a national award winner. The Women of Reform Judaism’s (WRJ) created an essay competition to honor their 100th anniversary. The topic: The Influence of Women’s Leadership on Our Congregations. President of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim’s Reform Synagogue’s youth group, Elizabeth Levi, discovered the contest searching for scholarships to attend the North American Federation of Temple Youth’s (NFTY) Convention in L.A. in February. Her authenticity and writing talent won her the national award. The contest’s prize was registration for the convention and $1000. It’s perfect during Women’s History Month that Lizzie said, “I am inspired by the women of my synagogue and honored to have won this competition on their behalf.” Here are highlights:
A Man’s World Ain’t Nothin’
“I cried when I learned our new rabbi was a woman. I…didn’t like the thought of change. She must be weird – what kind of woman would want to be a rabbi, anyway? Four years later, the woman I loathed in one moment would be the same woman I strive to be like every day, the woman who helped shape my Judaism, my leadership, and myself as an individual. She would become a friend– someone I texted, someone who helped me through life’s difficulties. She would change my life and our congregation in ways no one anticipated.
Our previous rabbi had served our congregation since 1992--the only rabbi I had ever known. When he retired, I expected our congregation to choose another man like the rabbi I knew – one a little older, liberal, and completely open-minded.
Our new rabbi was a woman in her mid-thirties…
My congregation relies heavily on the leadership of women. Our b’nei mitzvah coordinator, our temple educator, our rabbi, our youth advisor, and our music coordinator all are women. They are the foundations of my community and influence our temple youth. They provide our community with love, strength, and spirituality and push us toward new directions without forgetting lessons of our past. Without them, the Judaism I know and love wouldn’t be possible. I’m thankful for women leaders, because now I’m one of them.
As the president of KKBE’s youth group, it’s my responsibility to inspire, to teach, to love the way I was taught by the women of my community; they’re part of our congregation’