The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Pauline Bebe

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Pauline Bebe until we are able to commission a full entry.

Pauline Bebe. Photo by Marie Accomiato.

The first woman rabbi in France, Pauline Bebe has worked to reach out to addicts, HIV-positive people, and others who often struggle to find an inclusive community. Bebe studied Hebrew and English at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris before entering the seminary at the Leo Baeck College in England in 1985. Her master’s thesis focused on “The Attitude of Judaism in the Face of Proselytism and Conversion.” After her ordination in 1990, she returned to France to serve the Parisian synagogue Mouvement Juif Liberal de France, welcoming those ostracized by the community—even as more conservative elements in the congregation opposed the very notion of a female rabbi. In 1995 she left to form the more liberal Communaute Juive Liberale, which changed its name to Maayan the following year. Under her direction, the large and lively congregation works to help the sick and needy, welcome refugees, and run regular clothing, food, and volunteer drives. Bebe has also continued her scholarship by writing numerous books, most notably her 2001 ISHA: Dictionnaire des Femmes et du Judaisme.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Pauline Bebe." (Viewed on February 8, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/bebe-pauline>.

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