They came from across the United States and Canada, from synagogues and communities large and small, each bringing her own unique background and personal story. Yet the 100 women who came to the Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins on Nov. 11 and 12 in Teaneck, NJ and presented by Yeshiva University’s Center of the Jewish Future, shared one important characteristic – that of the enormous pride they feel in their role as rebbetzin.
The role of rabbi’s wife has changed significantly over the years. Let’s just say, these women are not your grandmother’s rebbetzins. Times have changed, and so has the role of rebbetzin. There are many complex communal challenges that a rebbetzin, in her unique and important role as the wife of the rabbi, is expected to address and help solve. Which is why this yearly gathering is so helpful to those who attend. The program is designed to give rabbis’ wives an opportunity to acquire new resources and skills, network with others in a safe and supportive environment, develop lasting relationships and enjoy the intellectual stimulation of Torah study with leading Jewish scholars while being mentored by more experienced rebbetzins.
There are many balancing acts and expectations for rebbetzins. Navigating her role as rebbetzin, wife and mother, being in the public eye, how much to get involved in a congregant’s personal situation – this program helps address these and so many other issues. This year’s theme was Ten Hats and Counting: Balancing the Many Roles of a Rebbetzin with Wellness and Skills. Topics explored included, Life In The Public Eye: Finding A Healthy Balance, The Rise Of Anxiety In Teenagers: Sources And Strategies and Spirituality Starts At Home: Inspiring Ourselves And Our Children So That We Can Inspire Others. Additional discussions addressed how to meet the needs of singles in the community and ways to help in times of community tragedy and individual suffering.
“The Rebbetzins Yarchei Kallah convenes the scholars, teachers, and mentors of Yeshiva University, in support of our community’s most under-recognized group of outstanding leaders,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, The David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. “The guidance and direction shared at the conference shapes and informs how rebbetzins can inspire and serve our community.“
In addition to Rabbi Glasser, speakers included Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, and his wife Mrs. Anita Berman, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, Mrs. Sivan Rahav-Meir, Rabbi Daniel Feldman, Rabbi Dr. Ari Sytner, Rabbi Menachem and Mrs. Adina Penner, Mrs. Rachel Hercman, Mrs. Karen Hochberg, Mrs. Elisheva Kaminetsky, Mrs. Peshi Neuburger, Mrs. Sharon Richter, Dr. David Pelcovitz, Mrs. Yocheved Schacter, and Mrs. Atara Weisberger. Gary Rosenblatt, the son of Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt, for whom the conference is named, spoke on the occasion of his mother’s tenth yartzeit. Various organizations, including YU Connects, Project S.A.R.A.H. NechamaComfort, Shalom Task Force, Sharsheret, Rabbis Can Run, PUAH, and physical therapists specializing in women’s issues were present to consult with the rebbetzins.
The women learned new skills, made new personal and professional connections, and most of all, were inspired by the unique and special group of smart, sincere, accomplished, and highly competent women, all devoted to serving their faith and their communities.
“I am proud to count myself among this cohort of rebbetzins who carved the time to learn more about a position that is not official or part of our shuls’ budgets,” wrote Rebbetzin Yocheved Goldberg on a personal blog post, who was in attendance. “Throughout the conference, I was so inspired by what shining examples my fellow rebbetzins are in their communities and that with their leadership and impact, our future is indeed bright.”