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UJA New Women’s Cabinet – Separate But How Equal?

In the second issue of LILITH, we reported that the United Jewish Appeal’s men-only Young Leadership Cabinet was torn over whether or not to admit women, despite its Executive Committee’s vote last August to open the Cabinet to women.

The issue has been resolved with the creation of a separate Young Women’s Leadership Cabinet. The all-women Cabinet will be independent of the UJA National Women’s Division but will work with the Women’s Division and the men’s Cabinet to develop educational, leadership development and fund raising programs.

Jane Sherman of Detroit, daughter of UJA patriarch Max Fisher, is acting chairman of the Cabinet. She is currently vice chairman of the National Women’s Division. The staff director is Barbara Faske, who was assistant director of the all-male Young Leadership Cabinet.

The women’s Cabinet is still in the initial stages of organization. According to steering committee member Linda Feinstone of New York, the steering committee will act as the initial membership committee, considering names suggested by community leaders and local UJA professionals.

Ms. Feinstone, 34, vice president of Archaeological Tours to Israel, had been nominated to the men’s Cabinet following their short-lived decision to admit women. She said she “originally opposed the idea of a women’s Cabinet,” feeling that “women could be effectively served by a joint Cabinet.” Like several of the men in the Young Leadership Cabinet who had pushed for admitting women, she hopes that eventually the two Cabinets will merge. The men’s Cabinet—the elite cadre from which national UJA leaders are chosen—was willing to stand by its decision to admit women unless women leaders decided to form their own Cabinet, which they did.

One observer, a long-time volunteer and professional in Jewish organizations, feared that the Young Women’s Leadership Cabinet will be separate but not equal. She said, “We women are always too ready to be the peacemakers.”