The historic Bialystoker Synagogue, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, looked set to launch a new era this past June: For the first time, the Orthodox congregation was prepared to allow a woman to run for a position its board.I was reminded of a really interesting cultural artifact, a Haggadah published and distributed by the Yeshiva Chaim Berlin at least twice (1945 and 1958) but probably every year during that period, which you can see here and here. In each edition, the last pages included a list of the members of the board of directors. Here they are:
But the synagogue members’ vote to do so has been overturned by the congregation’s rabbi, reportedly upon the intervention of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, son of the famed late rabbinic authority, Moshe Feinstein. The father, in his day one of the most revered Torah legal authorities in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, was a longtime resident of the storied neighborhood in which Jewish immigrants once teemed, and in which his family retains deep roots and continuing influence.
The communal spat, which took place this past spring, pitted the congregation’s Modern Orthodox contingent against its more traditional elements, laying bare an ideological schism at the 145-year-old synagogue.
“This was definitely a win, sort of, for the more yeshivish,” one synagogue member said, using a term that refers to the non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox. That synagogue member asked that his name not be used, citing the small size of the community. “I think the rabbi was concerned with that element leaving,” he said.
The congregation’s rabbi, Zvi David Romm, a graduate of the Yeshiva University’s Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
While acknowledging that the precise nature of this board is unclear, as you can see there are several women on the board of directors.
Here is the cover:
Some interesting excerpts: