Delphine Horvilleur

b. November 8, 1974

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

Photo of Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur by Rudy Waks, courtesy of Rabbi Horvilleur.

As one of the leaders of the Liberal Jewish Movement in France (MJLF) and one of five female rabbis in the country, Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur works to bring a progressive mindset to the more traditional French Jewish community. Deeply Jewish but certain that women couldn’t become rabbis, Horvilleur went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1992 to study medicine. After Prime Minister Rabin’s assassination in 1995, she changed her focus to journalism, hoping to transform the world through her writing. She moved to New York, studied at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008. She then returned to France, where she became (and remains, as of 2023) one of three leaders of the Liberal Jewish Movement of France, a liberal community affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism, as well as rabbi of one of its two Parisian synagogues. She has served as editor-in-chief of Tenou’a: A Review of Jewish Thought, the journal attached to MJLF, and published several books: Eve’s Costume: Feminism, Modesty, and Judaism (2013), How the Rabbis Make Children: Sex, Transmission, and Identity in Judaism (2015), Understand the World (2020), Living With Our Dead (2021), and There is no Ajar (2022). She also collaborated with Muslim scholar Rachid Benzine in 2017 to write A Thousand and One Ways to be Jewish or Muslim, to explore the intersection of the religions. Horvilleur conducted the funerals of Elsa Cayat, a Jewish victim of the Charlie Hebdo attack, and of the Auschwitz survivor Simone Veil, the first female president of European Parliament, in 2015 and 2017 respectively. She has also been outspoken about persistent antisemitism in France. Horvilleur met with President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the issue and released Reflections on the Antisemitic Question in 2019; the book was published in English in 2021 as Anti-Semitism Revisited: How the Rabbis Made Sense of Hatred. In January 2020, she was featured on the cover of ELLE France. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Horvilleur continued to officiate funerals over Zoom. The initial lockdown coincided with Passover, which led her to consider the parallels between quarantining inside and the story of the Jews in Egypt. She gave talks over Zoom connecting Jewish texts to contemporary life that became wildly popular on social media. Horvilleur’s lectures reached Jews, Christians, Muslims, and atheists alike. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Delphine Horvilleur." (Viewed on February 28, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/horvilleur-delphine>.