Joy Levitt

b. 1954

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

Photo of Rabbi Joy Levitt by Diana Berrent, courtesy of Rabbi Levitt.

Rabbi Joy Levitt helped shape the Reconstructionist movement as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA). Levitt graduated from Barnard College in 1975 and earned a master’s degree the following year before her ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1981. She served as the RRA’s first female president from 1987 to 1989 and acted as rabbi for both B’nai Keshet in Montclair, New Jersey, and the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Long Island for almost 20 years. She also co-edited the Reconstructionist Haggadah, A Night of Questions, in 1999. In 1998 Levitt became executive director of the JCC in Manhattan, where she opened a new center in Harlem, helped the Jewish community weather the shock of 9/11, and offered public support for the building of an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center. Newsweek named her one of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis of 2010 and 2011, and she was honored as one of the Forward 50 in 2011. In 2011, she founded the Jewish Journey Project at the JCC in Manhattan, a project that provides students with programs to focus on Jewish enrichment. Levitt stepped down from her role as CEO of the JCC in Manhattan. As of 2024, she serves as the interim director of adult engagement at Central Synagogue. She also serves on boards of schools and other Jewish institutions, including The Shefa School and The Jewish Book Council.   

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Joy Levitt." (Viewed on April 17, 2024) <>.