The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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

Deborah Brin

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

Rabbi Deborah Brin

Deborah Brin, one of the first openly gay rabbis, led the first prayer service for Women of the Wall at the Conference for the Empowerment of Jewish Women in 1988. Brin studied religion at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, before she was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1985, becoming one of the first 100 women rabbis. She came out while serving as rabbi for Toronto’s Congregation Darchei Noam, which then renewed her contract and officially made her first openly gay rabbi to lead a congregation. Despite their initial acceptance, however, tensions continued to rise until Brin resigned her post in 1990. She began working as a chaplain for Grinnell College in Iowa, where she also explored her lifelong fascination with different healing traditions by becoming a licensed massage therapist. She served as rabbi for Congregation Nahalat Shalom in Albuquerque, New Mexico from 2006 until her retirement in 2016. Among her publications, she co-edited the poetry section for the Reconstructionist prayer book Kol HaNeshamah. In 2010 she received an honorary doctorate from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in honor of her 25 years of service to the Jewish community. In 2021 she was interviewed as one of New Mexico Profundo’s 100 New Mexicans, a project which seeks to document the diversity of life in the state. As of 2023 she works part time as a geriatric care manager and continues to teach classes at Congregation Nahalat Shalom. 

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Deborah Brin." (Viewed on December 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/brin-deborah>.

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