Laura Geller

As one of the first women rabbis, Laura Geller pushed for women’s greater inclusion in both Jewish liturgy and Jewish leadership. In 1976 Geller became the third woman ordained by the Reform movement and became the Hillel director for the University of Southern California. There she founded a Jewish Women’s Research Group to explore issues at the intersection of Jewish studies and women’s studies, and also created a Jewish women’s faculty group. From 1990–1994 she served as director of the Los Angeles branch of the American Jewish Congress and created two vital institutions: the Jewish Urban Center, which offered opportunities for social justice in the wake of the LA Riots, and the Jewish Feminist Center, which organized classes and women’s Seders. In 1993, at the twentieth anniversary commemorating the ordination of American women rabbis, Geller pointed out in her stirring address that women rabbis still lagged behind their male colleagues in terms of equal pay and opportunities. The following year, she became the first woman rabbi to lead a major metropolitan synagogue, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. From 2001–2008 she served on the board of governors for Hebrew Union College.


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One of the first women to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States—and the first working rabbi to bear a child—Laura Geller has played an important role in encouraging a higher degree of both tradition and egalitarianism within the Reform Jewish community.

Institution: Rabbi Laura Geller, Beverly Hills, California.

Date of Birth

Brookline, MA
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Laura Geller ." (Viewed on April 17, 2021) <>.


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