As one of the very first women to be ordained, Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus helped shape policy for rabbis throughout the Reform movement. A Chicago native, Dreyfus earned a BA in history from Fairhaven College in Bellingham, Washington in 1974 before beginning her studies at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She became a founding member of the Women’s Rabbinic Network in 1976, and was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1979. While many of the first generation of women rabbis sought high-profile positions to break the “stained glass ceiling,” Dreyfus focused on finding a work-life balance that would enable her to continue her career while raising her three children. After working as a hospital chaplain and serving briefly with several small synagogues, she returned to the Chicago area to become rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom (now B’nai Yehudah Beth Sholom) in 1987. Although she retired in 2013, she remains rabbi emerita there. She became the first female president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis in 2001, and in 2009 she became both a member of the board of governors of HUC-JIR and the second female president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Ellen Dreyfus." (Viewed on March 22, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/dreyfus-ellen>.