Ellen GoodmanHebrew College will celebrate the impact of Jewish women’s leadership at its annual gala, Celebrate 2016: Honoring Women's Leadership and Philanthropy, on March 22, 2016 at Gann Academy in Waltham.

In the story of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim, the personal becomes political for the celebrated heroines in the Book of Esther. Queen Vashti refuses the king’s summons to be paraded about in front of his drunken court of men and is banished for her subversive act. Queen Esther evolves from a reluctant messenger into a savvy heroine who outmaneuvers the male leadership and ensures the survival of the Jewish People. Each woman reflects a different style of leadership, but in each case she steps out of her traditionally defined role and raises her voice against the status quo.

In this spirit, who better to exemplify women breaking down barriers than Gala keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ellen Goodman, one of the first to open up the op-ed pages to women’s voices? Goodman began her career as a researcher for Newsweek at a time when only men wrote for the newsweekly. She shattered the mold of male exclusivity when she became a syndicated columnist, writing about politics, at The Boston Globe in 1976.

In her talk, “Leaning In, and Up,” Goodman will reflect on the challenges and successes women leaders have faced in the ensuing years and the role of women in the political sphere. As Goodman explained in a recent interview, “Women in politics is a huge part of the leadership question. Women have advanced much further in other careers than in politics. Fifty percent of medical school and law school students are women; compare that with Congress at only twenty percent women. Politics is where public policy takes place. What kind of society do we want to be? Women need to be involved in that discussion.”

The evening will honor four outstanding women—Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine, Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, Sari Anne Rapkin, and Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller, who passed away in August 2015—for their leadership and philanthropy at Hebrew College, in the Greater Boston Jewish community, and beyond.

Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine serves on the CJP Board as annual campaign co-chair, and on the boards of The Rashi School and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is a member of the Jewish Funders Network and Cornell Hillel boards. Sari Anne Rapkin, former chair and current member of the CJP Board, sits on the boards of a number of organizations including the JCC of Greater Boston, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, Jewish Federations of North America and Mayyim Hayyim.

Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller, MAJS`05, whose life and legacy exemplified leadership and compassion, will be honored posthumously. She was a founding member of the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE) at Hebrew College, served on the board of The Rashi School and the Advisory Council for Jewish Family & Children’s Services’ Jewish Healing Connections.

In keeping with the Purim theme, the honorees will receive the Esther Award for Leadership and Philanthropy.

The Gala will take place at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA on Tuesday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. To attend or to pay tribute to an honoree, please visit http://hebrewcollege.edu/celebrate2016gala or call (617) 559-8766.