"It's like basketball," said Leslie Valas, who served as Beth Israel's president from 2006 to 2008.
"Women have control of the ball.
Women have access to the physical experience of being with the Torah.
That does not happen at every Orthodox congregation."
Some Orthodox congregations forbid women from taking high leadership roles such as the presidency.
recalled a recent visit to Philadelphia where she
toured an Orthodox synagogue.
When she mentioned to her guide that she was a past president of a shul, the guide told her "That wouldn't happen here."
In addition to Valas
, the other past presidents are Katy Tornheim (1973-1974), Joan Sopher (1975-1978), Maxine Winer (1986-1988 and 1992-1993), Barbara Budnitz (1988-2000), Denise Resnikoff (2002-2004) and Rebecca Landes (2010-2012).