My initial passion for healing the world was kindled by the Holocaust and further enflamed when the civil rights movement of the 1960s taught me about America's hidden history of genocide and racism. Not until I entered the rabbinic path in 1972 did I realize that women bore an equally oppressive history, even within the Jewish community. I was surprised to learn that Jewish women did not enjoy the same privileges as Jewish men, and that our written words and public persona were barely present. I also soon discovered that, like members of other groups who experience prejudice, I was vulnerable to verbal and physical attack when I stepped outside conventional norms and expectations with a new vision and an active program for women's human rights.
Lynn Gottlieb entered pulpit life at the age of 23 in 1973, as rabbi to Temple Beth Or of the Deaf in New York City. In 1981, she became the first woman ordained in the Jewish Renewal Movement. Gottlieb's creativity, peace and justice activism, feminism, and focus on spiritual meaning helped shape the Jewish Renewal Movement. In 1974, she founded a Jewish feminist theatre troupe called Bat Kol, which brought feminist midrash, ceremony, and storytelling to hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. In 1983, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lived for 22 years, co-founding Congregation Nahalat Shalom. Gottlieb recently moved to Southern California to head a new organization called Interfaith Inventions. It is an extension of her work as co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walk that created pilgrimages between synagogues and mosques and other supporting faith communities throughout the U.S. and Canada in the past few years. As part of her interfaith community efforts, she is currently working on issues that relate to the way globalization is impacting the lives of young women around the world.
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Photograph of Muslim-Jewish Peace Walk in New York City, September 11, 2003.
Credit: FOR Archives.