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Sue Levi Elwell

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell dedicated her career to creating opportunities for Jewish women to learn and take ownership of Jewish rituals. Ordained in 1986, Elwell wrote The Jewish Women’s Studies Guide a year later, going on to found the American Jewish Congress Feminist Center in Los Angeles. The center ran Rosh Hodesh groups and offered women classes in everything from basic Jewish education through Talmud and Jewish mysticism, empowering Jewish women who had often not had a bat mitzvah or any chance to participate in Jewish learning or ritual before. Elwell served as the first rabbinic director of Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project, where she helped edit their feminist haggadah. She is also the editor of The Open Door, a haggadah of the Reform Movement, and helped edit The Torah: A Women's Commentary and Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation. Along with traditional congregational pulpits, Elwell was a chaplain for Beit T’Shuvah, a residential program for Jewish felons and other recovering addicts. From 2001-2008, she served as the director of the Pennsylvania Council and Federation of Reform Synagogues of Greater Philadelphia.

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Hi, I'm April Hampton. In 2014, I had the pleasure of attending a Seder in Montgomery, AL that used "The Open Door". As a Christian, African-American, I left blown away with how you wove your story. I was so inspired that I decided to craft the African- American version that I call "The Telling: A Gathering of Remembrance" I will be attempting to release this work by the end of the year and would love for you to give me some feedback if possible. Thanks!



Sue Levi Elwell.


Philadelphia, PA
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sue Levi Elwell." (Viewed on December 2, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/elwell-sue-levi>.


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