Valerie Leibler was a new member of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in the early 1970s, and she heard occasional remarks about the women's role in the Conservative synagogue. The congregation allowed women to open the ark and read some English prayers from the bima, innovations at the time.
"There was a very, very quiet push for women to do more ritually in the shul," she says. Not an organized campaign: "it was pre-feminism."
A day after the arson fire at a Hauppauge, L.I., synagogue last week, a congregant at the neighboring Dix Hills Jewish Center rushed up to the rabbi to ask about security for the High Holy Days.
"He said security was being beefed up and that there was nothing to be worried about," the congregant, Elaine Greenwald, said later of her conversation with Rabbi Howard Buechler. "I trust that when the rabbi tells me that, we're doing all we can."