Little girl standing in front of a brick wall with the words
Credit: Katherine Hanlon

Read letters to the editor responding to “Common Thread”

Don’t Forget B’nai Israel

I was delighted to read Barbara Lewis’s article “Common Thread” (Dec. 6, page 18). Though not so unusual, seven synagogues currently are led by women. It was indeed good to learn that seven congregations in the Detroit area are led by women presidents. This is indeed good news, but it seems like I have some more.

Barbara Lewis somehow neglected to mention one more synagogue, my very own Congregation Bnai Israel of West Bloomfield, whose co-president is Joanna Abramson, a lawyer in her day job, who definitely deserves to be included. A Conservative congregation originated in Pontiac, B’nai Israel has a female president for the first time in its history.

Rachel Kapen
West Bloomfield

Small but Mighty

Joanna Abramson - woman with long hair and scarf turned and smiling to the camera
Joanna Abramson Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News

I have the privilege of working with two women who have given selflessly to our Congregation B’nai Israel for more than 10 years. Our current executive director Linda Jacobson has served as our congregational president as well as our current executive director. Our current co-president Joanna Abramson has served our synagogue while running a high-pressure law firm with her husband Jay. At B’nai Israel we look at inclusion of all not as an anomaly but what we do everyday. I hope in the future the JN will remember that there still are small synagogues left that exist in the midst of the mega-synagogues and temples.

Robert Kimmel
Co-President, B’nai Israel

Remember Or Chadash, Too

Deb Kovsky - woman with bangs and shoulder-length hair smiles in a jacket and necklace.
Deb Kovsky Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News

I enjoyed Barbara Lewis’ article “Seven Synagogues Currently Led by Women” in the Dec. 6 edition of the Jewish News but must point out an oversight: the omission from the list of Congregation Or Chadash, an Orthodox congregation in Oak Park, where Deb Kovsky serves as president. (Full disclosure: I serve with Rabbi Azaryah Cohen in the rabbinic leadership of the congregation.) Indeed, not only does Or Chadash have a woman as president, it is — as far as I know — the only Orthodox congregation in Michigan that can make that claim.

Of course, this is not surprising, as one of Or Chadash’s founding precepts is that women have a key place in the synagogue. At Or Chadash, women recite Kaddish in the presence of a minyan, recite the prayer for the government and for the Israel Defense Forces, open the ark and are invited to deliver summaries of the week’s Torah portion and haftarah.

Susann Codish - woman wearing head scarf smiles at camera
Susann Codish Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News

Upon Or Chadash’s founding more than two decades ago, its very first president was a woman, Susann Codish. Not so coincidentally, when Susann taught Hebrew Bible at Yeshivat Akiva, Deb was her student in high school. Deb has mentioned on many occasions how honored she feels to be following in her teacher’s footsteps as an Orthodox woman and leader.

Eliezer Finkelman
Oak Park

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