Shayna Rhodes

Rabbi Shayna Rhodes works at Hebrew College in Boston as a beit midrash instructor.  Growing up, she attended the Bais Yaakov School for Girls, followed by Barnard College in New York City, where she received a degree in history.  Rabbi Rhodes then obtained a master's degree in Computer Programming and taught computer languages at colleges in between raising her children.  As her interest in combining feminism with Jewish tradition grew, she became a rabbi. Shayna graduated from Hebrew College Rabbinical School in 2008.

Scope and Content Note

Shayna first talks about her Orthodox girlhood and recounts her memories of dancing and singing in the men's section when she was younger but was separated behind the mechitza as she grew older.  She describes her early education at Bais Yaakov School for Girls, where she felt frustrated that students were not encouraged to ask questions.  She then attended Barnard College, where she quickly became a feminist "in everything but religion." She discusses her journey toward becoming a rabbi: people regularly told her she would be a good rabbi. Shayna began to consider the possibility, especially as her daughters grew older.  She observed the restrictions they faced because of their gender.  After Hebrew College opened up near her home, she enrolled.  Both her husband and her children were very supportive of her becoming a rabbi.  Rabbi Rhodes talks about her acceptance of wearing tefillin, which she had initially rejected.  She then describes her understanding of God.  Shayna describes her work as co-director of Hebrew College’s beit midrash, where she teaches in the classroom and facilitates chavruta (partnership study).  She is interested in empowering women's voices, especially in Talmud scholarship.  Finally, Shayna articulates her goal for her rabbinate: to spread the Torah and reinforce the role of women as Talmud scholars and caring Rabbis. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Shayna Rhodes. Interviewed by Ronda Spinak. 17 March 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 22, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/rhodes-shayna>.

Oral History of Shayna Rhodes 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.