RA History

RA History

1901  The RA is founded on June 17 in Philadelphia as the Alumni Association of the Jewish Theological Seminary, with Henry M. Speaker, principal of Gratz College, as president. 

1918  With over 100 members, the Alumni Association changes its name to the Rabbinical Assembly, so as to attract rabbis ordained at institutions other than the Seminary. 

1927   The RA establishes the Law Committee, chaired by Rabbi Max Drob. 

1934   Rabbi Harry Davidowitz is the first RA member to settle in Israel. 

1944   One-third of the members of the RA serve as military chaplains in World War II. 

1946   Rabbi Morris Silverman edits The Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book. 

1948   The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is established, successor to the Law Committee.  

1951   Rabbi Wolfe Kelman is engaged as the RA's executive vice president, serving 40 years in this capacity.  

1953   The RA accepts the so-called "Lieberman Clause" to the Ketubah, making the issuing of a get subject to the directives of the civil courts. 

1955   The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approves aliyot for women. 

1959   Rabbi Jules Harlow begins his tenure at the RA, producing a stunning series of liturgical works. 

1965   Rabbi Gilbert Epstein is engaged to direct the Joint Commission on Rabbinic Placement, to be succeeded in 1991 by Rabbi Elliot Salo Schoenberg.  

1969   The RA Committee on Jewish Law and Standards authorizes the annulment of marriage by a bet din when a husband refuses to give a get. 

1972   The Mahzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur , edited by Rabbi Jules Harlow, is published.  

1973   The RA permits counting women in the minyan. 

1975   The Latin American Region of the RA is established in the mid-1970s, as is RA of Israel. 

1985   The RA admits its first female member, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, immediately followed by Rabbis Jan Caryl Kaufman and Beverly Magidson.  

1988   Together with other arms of the Conservative Movement, the RA issues Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism.  

1989   Rabbi Joel H. Meyers becomes executive director and later (1991) executive vice president of the RA 

1999   The RA admits the members of the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. 

2001   The RA celebrates its centennial. The RA has 1451 members, including 117 women. Approximately ten percent of its members live in Israel and 44 members serve constituencies in Latin America. The first conference of Assembly members serving in Europe takes place in Paris, France.  

2001   Etz Hayim, the new Conservative Humash commentary, is published, with Rabbi David Lieber as senior editor. It won a National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction  

2003   Membership exceeds 1500 rabbis.  

2004   The RA establishes a new publishing imprint, Aviv Press, producing books of interest to a wide Jewish readership.  

2009   Rabbi Joel Meyers retires after 20 years as Executive Vice President, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is appointed Executive Vice President.  She is the first woman to head a rabbinic organization.

2010   Rabbinical Assembly publishes Mahzor Lev Shalem, a new High Holy Day Prayer Book to great acclaim, over 120,000 copies sold in the first six months.