Rabbi Julie Featured for Women's History Month
This is a copy of an article written by ORL for Women's History Month to highlight our powerful women leaders.
Today’s “#WHMSpotlight is Rabbi Julie Roth, the Executive Director of Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life (@princeton_cjl).
“As a female, I don't, "look like a rabbi". When people picture rabbis, they more typically, or traditionally picture men, men with beards, men with a kippah on their heads. When I'm out on campus, people don't think, by looking at me, unless they know me, "Oh, that must be the rabbi." So I want to expand people’s vision of what a rabbi looks like, what a rabbi sounds like. I am a feminist, and I think that part of the redemption that's still needed in the world has to do with equality for women. And I certainly see places where there isn't... . I'm proud to say that I've broken through that glass ceiling, that I'm one of the top 10 paid Hillel Directors in the country, but it took some effort. And before we made this active effort, there were only men in the top 10, and now there are two women. That's one side of it.
It's hard for me to say that being a female rabbi makes me different, but it's also hard for me to imagine, who I would be otherwise. What are the essential qualities of me if I had been born male instead of female? What essential qualities of me would be different? I'm not sure, but I think a lot of the essential qualities would be the same. One of the main roles in my life is that I'm a mother. And I think there are aspects of being a mother that are the same as being a father or a parent, and there are aspects that are different. I would say that my identity as a faith leader does impact my parenting in terms of wanting my kids to have a connection to holiness and to the tradition and to a sense of the Holy One being in their life. But I'm not sure if it's significantly different than my husband, who's also a rabbi.”
I think that rather than impacting my identity as a woman, being a rabbi has impacted my choice to be a working parent. In other words, I grew up with a mother who worked. She was home for some years when I was very young, but not by the time I was in elementary school. And I probably always saw myself as a working parent. But as one of a few female rabbis at the top of leadership in my field, I felt very strongly that it was important for me to stay fully focused on my career track as I was still raising children. And for me working part-time or taking a step back from my career really didn't seem like an option.”