Oral History Collection

The Nicki Newman Tanner

Oral History Collection

As part of JWA’s mission to expand the narrative of Jewish history, we have collected and recorded hundreds of interviews with leaders, activists, and community members across the United States, documenting their encounters with major events and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and the many ways that gender, class, place, and religious and ethnic identities have shaped women’s lives. With generous support from Nicki Newman Tanner,  Mass Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are proud to make these interviews and transcripts available to the public. All entries include transcripts; audio or video recordings are also available where narrator permissions allow. 

More about the collection

Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Sharon Anisfeld on March 24, 2014, in Newton, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Project. Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld shares her experiences and perspectives as a religious leader, discussing topics such as ethics policies, the Book of Esther, the evolving role of rabbis in contemporary society, and the importance of adaptability, empathy, and understanding of religious traditions in her leadership role.

Sally Finestone

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Sally Finestone on March 29, 2014, in West Newton, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women’s Rabbis Oral History Project. Rabbi Finestone discusses her path to becoming a rabbi, the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, her work in Hillel, her role as a mother, her relationship with God, and her pride in her accomplishments as a rabbi and educator.

Claudia Kreiman

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Claudia Kreiman on March 30, 2014, In Brookline, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Rabbi Kreiman shares her experiences growing up as a rabbi's daughter in Chile, her journey to Israel, her personal tragedies, and her goals as a rabbi at Temple B'nai Jeshurun.

Michele Lenke

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Michele Lenke on April 1, 2014 in Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Rabbi Lenke reflects on her journey from her Jewish upbringing and transformative experiences to overcoming obstacles as a female rabbi and finding fulfillment in her work, particularly in helping young Jews with B'nai Mitzvot and officiating same-sex weddings.

Suzanne Offit

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Suzanne Offit on March 26, 2014, in Newton, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Project. Suzanne began her rabbinical studies around the age of forty and shares her journey of embracing her Jewish identity, discusses her work in end-of-life care, including a special encounter with Charlotte Bloomberg and the subsequent grant to Hebrew College, and reflects on the transformation of her marriage and spiritual practices throughout her rabbinical education.

Barbara Penzner

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Barbara Penzner on February 25, 2014, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Rabbi Penzner reflects on her Jewish upbringing, calling to become a rabbi, studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, exploration of the mikvah ritual, working with interfaith couples, and balancing motherhood and her career.

Shayna Rhodes

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Shayna Rhodes on March 17, 2014, in Newton, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Project. Shayna reflects on her Orthodox upbringing, her frustration with limited questioning in her early education, her feminist awakening during her time at Barnard College, and her journey towards becoming a rabbi, emphasizing the support of her family, her evolving religious practices, and her mission to empower women's voices in Talmud scholarship.

Elaine Zecher

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Elaine Zecher in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 20, 2024, for the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Zecher, senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston, shares her journey as a female rabbi, her experiences as the first woman rabbi at Temple Israel, her love for liturgy and involvement in prayer book projects, her spiritual practices, Temple Israel's work with AIDS victims, and her deep connection to the universal values of Judaism.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Oral History Collection." (Viewed on February 25, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories>.