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Sao Paulo’s synagogue inaugurates first female rabbi


Latin America’s largest synagogue, the 2,000-family Congregacao Israelita Paulista in Brazil, has inaugurated its first female rabbi.

Some 200 people attended the welcome ceremony for Rabbi Fernanda Tomchinsky-Galanternik held last week at the 80-year-old Sao Paulo temple, also known by the acronym CIP. Ordained in December in Argentina, the Brazilian-born psychologist and mother of one also will coordinate the synagogue’s teaching department.

“CIP began to tread a path that is possible only within Judaism and particularly within such a pluralist community. I look forward to working with everyone in many different ways,” the rabbi said.

Rabbi Fernanda, as she has been commonly called, is the third female rabbi to serve at a Brazilian synagogue. Rio’s Reform temple ARI was the pioneer, hiring Paraguayan Rabbi Sandra Kochmann in 2003. Brazilian-born Luciana Pajecki Lederman has been Conservative Comunidade Shalom’s rabbi in Sao Paulo since 2005.

“We believe that women can perform mitzvot and participate in an equal position in religious services. Nothing is mandatory, but women are allowed to participate in an egalitarian way,” CIP President Sergio Kulikovsky stated in careful words to open the ceremony. (Source: JTA)