My school was treated to a visit from a real “Phenomenal Woman,” Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz. A short list of her accomplishments includes:
- Being the first female Conservative Rabbi from South America
- Earning her M.D. at the same time as she attended rabbinical school
- Founding Congregation Or Hadash with husband Rabbi Mario Karpuj
- Contributing to The Women’s Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot & Special Shabbatot
- Rising to a position of leadership as a pediatric bioethicist in Atlanta
Bortz told the students about Judaism in Argentina. She didn’t play up her amazing accomplishments — merely mentioning them offhand as they were necessary to explain parts of her story. In fact, much of my short list was composed not from her talk today, but from a Google search. I have rarely listened to someone speak, and immediately thought, “Wow, she’s incredible!” She discussed anti-Semitism and political difficulties in Argentina. She stated that her reason for leaving, however, was not anti-Semitism, but the fact that “there is no justice” in Argentina — her friend was brutally murdered. She teared up as she recalled that nothing much was done about it. She’s an excellent speaker — such poise and so engaging to listen to. She told the students about several aliyah movements from Argentina to Israel, noting that of her Jewish Day School class, only about four of approximately thirty did not make aliyah, while only about three out of her husband’s class did not. She lived for a time in Jerusalem, completing some of her training at Hadassah Hospital. I wish you all could have been there to hear her speak. I just can’t do it justice.