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What does it mean to be a Rebbetzin?

on Thursday, November 17 2011. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
This past week, Rebbetzin Moskowitz and I had the privilege of attending Yeshiva University’s annual Rebbetzin Conference in Teaneck, NJ.  Each year, I look forward to the opportunity to spend time with other Rebbetzins from all over the world and learn and grow with them.
What does it mean to be a Rebbetzin?  For many, it simply means to be married to the Rabbi.  For others, it means having a role and identity all her own.  Some women embrace and cherish the title, while others resent being defined by their association with their husband and prefer to be known by their own profession or interests.  Some love to teach and be involved in public leadership, while others enjoy hosting guests and serving the community from behind the scenes.

To me, being a Rebbetzin is a tremendously fulfilling and meaningful opportunity.  It enhances my life in so many ways.  I enjoy being invested in the community, involved in the lives of our members, and hosting guests in our home.  I am able to celebrate joyous occasions with you and mark sad ones together.  I enjoy giving occasional divrei Torah and shiurim and being involved with the various organizations within our community such as the Mikvah and Sisterhood.  It is especially important to me to be accessible and available to answer delicate and sensitive questions or to lend a listening ear.   

In my personal life, being a Rebbetzin means helping my children receive the blessings of being the “Rabbi’s kids” while protecting them from the challenges that come with that position that they never signed up for.  It means providing them with a positive and exciting outlook on being Jewish and the opportunities that can come with it.  Lastly, it means being a full partner with my husband, serving as his sounding board for sermons and classes, sharing my insights, advice, and ideas with him, and always supporting him in all that he does for the community.  

As hard as I try to be a good Rebbetzin, there are always going to be challenges and times when I will fall short.  At this conference, there were close to 100 women gathered who have similar experiences and challenges.   We addressed such issues as balancing our personal lives with our roles as Rebbetzins and inspiring our children.  Sessions were dedicated to contemporary issues facing members of our communities such as body image issues among women, Jewish parenting and technology, and helping singles meet their soul mates.  In addition, we enjoyed shiurim together on topics such as the centrality of Yerushalayim and finding meaning in Tefillah.  

Among all of the insights, ideas and lessons I take from this conference, invariably every year the most important thing I take away remains the same.  Over the two days, I shmooze with dozens of other Rebbetzins who tell me all about their “ba’al ha’batim”, their lay leadership, the pressures on their family and the many challenges in their communities.   Each year, while I listen to them I can’t help but think of just how blessed and fortunate I am to  be a part of the Boca Raton Synagogue and to be involved in so many of your lives.  The more I learn about other communities, the more confident I am in saying that ours is truly extraordinary.  I was particularly proud that throughout the conference women were approaching me to learn more about BRS, and how they can duplicate some of the things that we are doing.  

The admiration and respect for our community is a testament to each of you and to the special people who work so hard for all that we have achieved. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.

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