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Lynn Gottlieb publishes "She Who Dwells Within"

March 3, 1995
She Who Dwells Within by Lynn Gottlieb
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Cover of She Who Dwells Within by Lynn Gottlieb

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb's She Who Dwells Within, which she describes as "a practical guide to nonsexist Judaism," was published on March 3, 1995. Drawing on Gottlieb's own experiences as well as on traditional and feminist midrash (stories that comment on Biblical texts), the book combines thoughtful essays on gender and Judaism with new rituals for the important moments in Jewish women's lives. The title is taken from a translation of the word Shekhinah, traditionally understood as the feminine manifestation or aspect of God.

Born in Pennsylvania, Gottlieb earned her B.S. at Hebrew University in Jerusalem before studying at Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Theological Seminary. While in New York, she became involved in early Jewish feminist circles. Because JTS did not at the time admit women to its rabbinical program, Gottlieb was privately ordained in 1981 by three rabbis, becoming the first woman ordained within the Jewish Renewal movement.

Even before her ordination, Gottlieb had found a niche as a rabbi, serving as the spiritual leader of a deaf congregation in Hollis, New York. She later incorporated sign language, along with music and storytelling, into her unconventional pulpit work and touring performances. Following her ordination, Gottlieb helped to build Congregation Nahalat Shalom in Albuquerque, NM, at the request of a group of unaffiliated Jews there.

Gottlieb remained at Nahalat Shalom for over two decades, building a community that emphasized work for peace, nonviolence as a spiritual practice, earth-based spirituality, interfaith work, and music. She has been particularly active in building ties between the Jewish and Muslim communities, as a co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walks and by giving joint lectures with Muslim leaders.

In 2004, Gottlieb left her Albuquerque congregation and moved to California to pursue her interfaith work as director for Interfaith Inventions Peace Camp, an organization that seeks to bring together children and adults of diverse faiths to promote understanding and respect.

In 2007, Lynn Gottlieb was listed as one of the "Top 50 Rabbis in America" by Letty Cottin Pogrebin in the Washington Post. Pogrebin's list was written in answer to a similar list published in Newsweek that only included 5 women.

To learn more about Lynn Gottlieb, visit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.

See also: Spirituality in the United States; Feminist Theology; Ritual: A Feminist Approach.

Sources:Lynn Gottlieb, She Who Dwells Within, (San Francisco, 1995); http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Gottlieb.html; Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, jwa.org/feminism/index.html?id=JWA030, "Top 50 Rabbis in America," Washington Post April 29, 2007.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Lynn Gottlieb publishes "She Who Dwells Within"." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/03/1995/lynn-gottlieb>.