The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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

Barbara Penzner

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

Rabbi Barbara Penzner has been a moral force for her congregation, leading it in multiple actions to uphold human rights around the world and in the local community. Penzner graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1978 and earned a master’s degree in religion from Temple University in 1984. She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1987, and became president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association in 1996. In 1995 she became the rabbi of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, where she has led the congregation in celebrating Human Rights Day and committing to social action. Alongside her congregational work, she has been active in the Boston Jewish community through her work as a board member of the Mayyim Hayyim mikveh, a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, and as co-chair of the Jewish Labor Committee. In 2009 she led 200 clergy in protesting the Hyatt hotel chain’s mass firing of housekeepers at their Boston-area hotels, and she has worked to get supermarkets to sign pledges not to buy produce from farms with abusive working conditions.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Barbara Penzner." (Viewed on June 8, 2023) <>.


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