Reform Movement Honors Gail Twersky Reimer and JWA

Contact: Deborah Fineblum Raub


Reform Movement Honors Gail Twersky Reimer and JWA

Jewish Women’s Archive’s Executive Director Accepts for Jewish Women Past, Present and Future

New York. Gail Twersky Reimer, Ph.D., accepted the 2012 American Jewish Distinguished Service Award from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York during Thursday’s graduation ceremonies.

As founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA), Reimer heads up an innovative organization that is dedicated to uncovering, chronicling, and transmitting the rich legacy of North American Jewish women.

For 16 years, JWA has been rescuing Jewish women’s stories from obscurity and documenting, preserving, and sharing them as a way to inform and inspire future generations.

“It is a privilege to honor Gail,” says HUC-JIR President Rabbi David Ellenson. "Through the work of the Jewish Women’s Archive, she has stimulated the study and history of Jewish women in North America, creating an indispensable and rich repository of educational materials for scholars and learners of all ages.” “Not only have Gail and JWA remembered the women who came before us, acknowledged the women among us, and inspired those who will follow after us, she’s also enriched the way both women and men understand the Jewish past and helped to create a world that fulfills the messianic promise of redemption that lies at the heart of Jewish faith by creating a more inclusive, diverse and gender-equal future. It is these values that JWA and the Reform movement share.”

These shared values were underscored Thursday by the presence of Rabbi Sally Priesand at the graduation ceremonies. Her historic ordination by Hebrew Union College 40 years ago changed the rabbinate forever. As Rabbi Ellenson noted, “for all those previous years, we did not have the inclusion of half of our people. An inclusive Judaism allows us to look to the future and create a world of human betterment. 
Gail Twersky Reimer represents the highest values of our tradition and a vision of inclusivity that our students will carry forward in the years ahead.”

Now, four transformational decades since Rabbi Priesand’s ordination, JWA has emerged as the central address for any exploration of the experience of Jewish women in America.

Previous American Jewish Distinguished Service Award winners include camping pioneers Samuel “Skip” Vichness and Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, HIAS’s Jerome Teller, philanthropist Carmen Warschaw, the Reform Movement’s Rabbi Lennerd Thal and, added this year in Cincinnati, Wexner Foundation emeritus Larry Moses. Reimer herself has been the recipient of numerous honors including two last year: the Auburn Theological Seminary’s Lives of Commitment Award and Hebrew College’s Benjamin J. Shevach Memorial Award.

About Gail Reimer
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Reimer received her Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Rutgers University. She began her professional career as a faculty member at Wellesley College where she received fellowships from the American Association of University Women and the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and the prestigious Pinanski Prize for excellence in teaching. In the early 1990s, Reimer co-edited two path-breaking anthologies of Jewish women’s writings—
Reading Ruth: Women Reclaim a Sacred Story and Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days. This led to the founding of the Jewish Women’s Archive.

About the Jewish Women's Archive
The mission of the Jewish Women’s Archive is to uncover, chronicle, and transmit the rich history of American Jewish women to the broadest possible audience. JWA is nationally recognized as a vital contributor to a more expansive and inclusive vision of Jewish life, past, present and future. Through its innovative uses of technology and its strategic partnerships, JWA has changed the way history is researched, recorded, and taught.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Reform Movement Honors Gail Twersky Reimer and JWA." (Viewed on May 22, 2019) <>.


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