Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz was raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her grandparents were all Holocaust survivors from Poland. She was raised secular, but her interest in Eastern spirituality led her to study Jewish mysticism, and ultimately to the rabbinate. Jacobowitz attended Hebrew College and was ordained in 2010. Temple B’nai B’rith in Somerville, MA hired her as an education director before appointing her as their rabbi. Today, she leads accessible “trans-denominational” services, connecting past tradition with modern progressive values.
Jacobowitz grew up in Tel Aviv with secular parents and grandparents, but she was always interested in religion. She craved spirituality but did not think she could find it in Judaism, which she experienced as only Orthodox and for men. As Jacobowitz explored Eastern spirituality, she found Jewish mysticism and began studying it as a hobby. She never expected she would become a rabbi, but she realized her path with help from Elie Wiesel. At Temple B’nai B’rith, Jacobowitz’s goal is to be spiritually welcoming and accessible to all, like LGBT Jews and interfaith families. She struggles with her decision to live in the US instead of Israel with her family, but it is more difficult to be a woman rabbi in Israel. Jacobowitz voices her complicated feelings about Israel, acknowledging the government’s bad decisions yet still feeling love for her home and identity, a heartbreak that American Jews don’t quite understand.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Eliana Jacobowitz. Interviewed by Lynne Himelstein. 25 February 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/jacobowitz-eliana>.
Oral History of Eliana Jacobowitz 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.