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Rabbis

Sue Levi Elwell

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell dedicated her career to creating opportunities for Jewish women to learn and take ownership of Jewish rituals.

Amy Eilberg

The first woman rabbi ordained by the Conservative Movement, Amy Eilberg forged her own path as a chaplain and pastoral counselor.

Rachel Cowan

As one of the founders of the Jewish healing movement, Rachel Cowan blended modern holistic medicine and counseling with traditional Jewish rituals and prayers to help change how people responded to illness.

Dianne Cohler-Esses

Dianne Cohler-Esses broke new ground as not only the first woman from the Syrian-Jewish community to become a rabbi, but also the first non-Orthodox rabbi from that community.

Nina Beth Cardin

Part of the first class of women ordained as Conservative rabbis, Nina Beth Cardin embraced the unconventional path of a “community pulpit” by founding healing centers and creating new ways to approach miscarriage and loss.

Rachel Adler

As a theologian, a committed Jew, and a pioneer of the Jewish feminist movement, Rachel Adler challenged her religion from within.

Shulamit Izen

After realizing at an early age that she was a lesbian, Shulamit Izen devoted herself to creating a supportive environment for Jewish GLBTQ teens.

Ray Frank

Ray Frank paved the way for women to serve as rabbis with her passionate and incisive preaching.

All of the Above: Refusing to Choose

There was a moment in my late twenties when I seriously considered rabbinical school. I was changing careers, trying to figure out what my next step would be, and becoming a rabbi would have allowed me to blend my love of Jewish ritual, my intellectual curiosity, and my passion for helping people into a calling. It made sense, on a deep level. But the more I talked about it with friends who were already rabbis and rabbinical students, the more they cautioned me, “As a woman, if you become a rabbi and you’re not married yet, you need to accept that you’ll probably never marry. Men don’t want to date women who are authority figures; it’s too emasculating.” I wanted to be a rabbi. But I also wanted marriage and children. When I believed that I needed to choose between them, I couldn’t bear the thought of never having children of my own. I quietly turned my focus to other graduate programs.

Death of Paula Ackerman, “America’s first Lady Rabbi”

January 12, 1989

The congregation president wrote of Paula Ackerman, "she is qualified, and we want her.”

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rabbis." (Viewed on October 26, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/rabbis>.

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