Road Wasn't Easy for First Woman to be President of Dallas Synagogue

May 31, 2008

Author: Harriet P. Gross

Source: The Dallas Morning News

When Jean Sturman tells you, with a wry smile, that next month she'll mark "the 50th anniversary of my 29th birthday," you're not surprised to learn she has four sons, eight grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

What might surprise you is that, at 78, she's just completed a two-year term as the first female president of Dallas' 118-year-old Tiferet Israel Congregation.

This was a position that might – some say should – have been hers much sooner. But traditional Judaism has long limited female leadership opportunities. Orthodox women don't become rabbis or cantors. Not presidents of major synagogues, either, until Gail Billig of New Jersey got the chance in 1997. But only a few have since joined the list.