Judith Ehrlich

Rabbi Judi (Judith) Ehrlich was born in South Africa to an Orthodox family. She attended a Jewish day school and, at the age of 15, studied in Israel. After this experience, Ehrlich decided to make aliyah. She lived in Israel for 12 years; during that time, she got married and had two children. With her family, she moved to America and received a master’s in psychology. Ehrlich worked as a matchmaker through New Possibilities: Boston’s Personal Jewish Introduction Service, but after the rise in internet dating services, she started to look for a new career that combined her love for Jewish learning and psychology and decided to become a rabbi. Ehrlich received her rabbinic ordination in 2008 and served as a chaplain at Hebrew Senior Life. 

Scope and Content Note

Ehrlich describes her childhood in South Africa as an Orthodox Jew, including her religious education and her family’s practices. Immediately after graduating high school, she moved to Israel, where she deepened her connection to Jewish learning at the seminaries Machon Gold and Michlalah l’bnot Yerushalim. Ehrlich married a few years after moving to Israel and had two children. After 12 years, she and her family moved to America, where she received her master’s in psychology. Ehrlich worked as a matchmaker at New Possibilities: Boston’s Personal Jewish Introduction Service, a job she loved. But due to the rise in internet dating services, specifically JDate, few men were applying for her services, while women were still hoping to find someone through her. She felt it was dishonest to continue, and she closed the program. Needing a second career, she realized that becoming a rabbi would be a way to combine her love of Jewish learning and her desire to help people and the Jewish community. Ehrlich was nervous to tell her parents, as her mother was strongly Orthodox and her father had Alzheimer’s, but both of her parents supported her choice. Ehrlich details how this decision impacted her relationships with her more religious family members, specifically her in-laws and her son, who both opposed women becoming rabbis. Still, they continued to maintain a loving and communicative relationship with her. She first attended the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York but switched to Hebrew College when they started their ordination program. After graduating from Hebrew College, she served as a chaplain at Hebrew Senior Living. Ehrlich recounts her experiences there and her role in helping patients and their families cope with loss. 

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Oral History of Judith Ehrlich. Interviewed by Lynne Himelstein. 24 February 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/ehrlich-judith>.

Oral History of Judith Ehrlich by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.