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Lisa Edwards

b. March 25, 1952

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

Rabbi Lisa Edwards (right) with her wife, Tracy Moore, photo courtesy of Rabbi Edwards.

As a lesbian rabbi serving an LGBT congregation during a period that spanned the AIDS crisis and the legalization of gay marriage, Lisa Edwards has spent decades working to make the Jewish community a more welcoming place for gay, lesbian, and transgender Jews. Edwards earned a BA from Brown University in 1975, an MA from the University of Chicago in 1977, and a PhD in English literature from the University of Iowa in 1985 before deciding to enter rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. In 1994, after her ordination, she took a position as rabbi of Los Angeles’s Beth Chayim Chadashim, the country’s first LGBT synagogue. The following year, she and her longtime partner, Tracy Moore, created a commitment ceremony for themselves, renewing their vows in 2008 when gay marriage became legal in California. An outspoken speaker and writer on the subject of LGBT inclusion in religious and secular communities, Edwards is a regular columnist for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and has written essays for The Women’s Torah Commentary, Kulanu: All of Us (a Union for Reform Judaism handbook on congregational LGBT inclusion), and Introduction to Judaism: A Sourcebook, as well as one of the introductions to the Reform movement’s 2015 High Holiday prayer book. In 2002 the LA LGBT Center presented her with a LACE Award for “outstanding contributions in spirituality.” In 2013, the Foward named her in its first annual “36 Most Inspiring Rabbis.” In 2014 Los Angeles honored her as one of seven LGBT Leaders and Legends, and in 2016 she was named Pioneer of Pride at the Los Angeles Pride Parade. In 2019 she received the Rainbow Key Award and a State of California Woman of the Year award. Later that year she retired with a plan to continue pursuing political activism. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lisa Edwards." (Viewed on March 1, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/edwards-lisa>.