Powerful Women

May 2017

At the beginning of the book of Exodus there is a story about two midwives who refuse to follow Pharoah’s command to destroy the first born Israelite children. Because of their wisdom and bravery Moses is saved and our people’s future is ensured. I find it amazing that the entire narrative of the Exodus, the entire narrative of our people, is set into motion because of the strength of these women. Even more powerful is that these women do not share the Israelite heritage of the babies they rescue.


We have many righteous women among us who perform countless acts of generosity, wisdom and bravery each and every day. And like the biblical midwives, many of them come from faith traditions different from our own.  However they cast their lot with our Jewish community and through their good works and generosity, ensure our communal future.


Margaret Cort is a treasure of this congregation and one of the righteous in our midst.  Margaret likes to tell me that she and her husband Bob Cort (also a mensch and a half) joined Beth Chaim back in the day when Moby Dick was a goldfish. I think that is her colorful way of saying, that the Cort family has a long history with Beth Chaim. We are so blessed to have Margaret and Bob as a part of our congregation. Bob is a past president and currently one of the most dedicated and active leaders I have seen in any community I have served.  Margaret too is an unsung hero.  A woman of wisdom, and strength, and modesty. I know that she will hate this article, but I am writing it anyway because of the huge impact she has made here at Beth Chaim.


In the past, Margaret has led Sisterhood, been active in the leadership of our religious school, and galas galore, but more recently she stepped in when our administrator Diana was injured in a car accident. She worked for weeks without compensation because she has a deep and abiding respect and love for this faith community. She came on board as our administrator after Diana needed to take leave, and she became a fantastic professional partner both for me personally and our staff and our board.  She is truly a giver, sharing her intelligence, skill for solving problems and establishing new systems, spending countless hours focused on projects always working for the sake of this sacred community.


Though Margaret was born Margaret Mary and hails from a Catholic family, there is no one I know with a greater respect for our Jewish tradition. Her mother-in-law, Bob’s mom, was a survivor of the Shoah.  Margaret keeps her memory alive and honors her in every act she does to sustain the Jewish traditions in her own family, and in our congregational family of families.  I am so grateful to Margaret personally for her generosity in serving this congregation as administrator for this past year.  Though she has chosen to step aside and look toward new challenges, she has also generously offered to support and transition our new administrator Robyn Resnick as she learns the ropes. Like the midwives of old, Margaret continues to use her wisdom and ingenuity to move the narrative of this congregation forward.  I hope the next time you see her you will offer your personal thanks and blessings for her service to Beth Chaim.  This congregation owes her a debt of gratitude for her faith and service.