Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai officers

Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst elected its first all-female slate of officers June 26. From left, they are Ellen Worthington, secretary; Gloria Jacobson, vice president; Alanna Cooper, vice president; Muriel Weber, treasurer; and Arlene Holz Smith, president.

In 2013, Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst elected a woman as president of an Orthodox synagogue in Greater Cleveland for the first time.

At its annual meeting June 26, the Modern Orthodox synagogue achieved another first by electing not only another woman president, but also an all-female slate of officers.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, executive director of the New York-based Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said to the best of her knowledge, there is no precedent for an all-female slate in the Orthodox community in the United States.

Arlene Holz Smith of Beachwood is the new president of Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai. Other newly elected officers are: Alanna Cooper of Beachwood, vice president; Gloria Jacobson of Mayfield Heights, vice president; Ellen Worthington of University Heights, secretary; and Muriel Weber of Shaker Heights, treasurer.

Weber was the synagogue’s first woman president, serving in that role the past three years.

“I am heartened that these thoughtful, bright, passionate members of the shul, who happen to be women role models as well, will continue to grow and inspire the shul and the Greater Cleveland Jewish community,” Weiss-Greenberg said in an email. “I am fortunate to know a number of these women on a personal level, and I was not surprised to see them involved in holy work.”

Rabbi Zachary Truboff, spiritual leader of Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai, said his shul has been “a trailblazer in terms of women’s leadership, and we’re very proud of that.”

“We’re always looking for the best people who can lead our shul forward,” he said. “These are the best, and we’re very excited about them.”

Smith, who was elected to a one-year term as president, served as vice president last year and is entering her third year on the board of trustees.

“I believe Arlene will be a fabulous president and will help lead our synagogue to another level of success,” Truboff said. “She’s kind and smart and really passionate about what this synagogue represents.”

Smith and her husband, Michael Lebby Smith, had been members of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood for more than 30 years before joining Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai four years ago. The shul has about 185 family units as members.

“What drew me to Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai was the fact that it’s a place where we were able to balance real inclusivity with traditional Orthodoxy,” Smith said. “The environment created by Rabbi Truboff is one that welcomed, encouraged, nurtured and mentored our daughter, and he has created a home at Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai.”

The Smiths’ daughter, Ramie, recently was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat – the first yeshiva to ordain women as Orthodox Jewish clergy – in New York. They have a son, Ari, who lives in New York as well.

“Another thing I found fulfilling (at Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai) is the very innovative programming Rabbi Truboff has created,” Smith said. “We have worked jointly together this past year on some dynamic programming, which has drawn a number of people in from other synagogues, and that is something we plan on continuing to do.”

A Cleveland native, Smith grew up in Cleveland Heights and said she has connections to all of the synagogues that merged to form Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai. Over the past 30 years, she has been an active volunteer at the synagogues to which she has belonged and at Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood.

“As president, I hope to increase our membership and to build an active chesed (loving) community,” she said. “One of the biggest responsibilities is to help ensure the shul is fiscally sound, and to that end I hope to enlist the support of all the members in fundraising and to continue to build Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai, not only in member units, but also to make it a strong and vibrant congregation.”

Cooper is director of Jewish lifelong learning at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Jacobson is a retired teacher and an active volunteer in the community.

Worthington has extensive experience as a professional fundraiser in both the Jewish and general communities. Weber is retired from a career in banking and has volunteered extensively in the community.

New board members elected to their first terms at the annual meeting are Dr. Murray Altose of Shaker Heights, Mark R. Greenfield of Beachwood, Ben Rancman of South Euclid and David Seltzer of Beachwood.

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