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Episode 94: Rebbetzins in America

What did talented, dedicated Jewish women do before they could become rabbis? Some became rebbetzins. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we’re looking at the changing role of the rebbetzin—the rabbi’s wife. Women have been rabbis in America for just over half a century, but for as long as there have been rabbis, there have been rabbis' wives—and they've often served as leaders, too. We'll hear from Shuly Rubin Schwartz, author of The Rabbi’s Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life, and from three spouses of rabbis.

This episode includes Tiny Putty by Blue Dot Sessions

Released June 5, 2023
  • Clockwise from top left: Shuly Rubin Schwartz (credit: Ellen Dubin Photography); Melissa Werbow; Sylvia Mowshowitz Orenstein; and Yoni Friedman. 

  • Sylvia Mowhsowitz Orenstein, bottom row, fourth from left, on a synagogue trip to Israel. Her husband, Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein, is on the top row, first on the left. Photo courtesy of Sylvia Mowshowitz Orenstein. 

  • Yoni Friedman's "Rebbitzman" license plate. Photo courtesy of Yoni Friedman. 

  • Collage for Rebbetzin podcast episode
  • Black-and-white photo of a group of people with a sign reading "El Al Israel Airlines Welcomes Congregation Beth El South Orange"
  • License plate reading "RBTZMAN"

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Episode 94: Rebbetzins in America." (Viewed on March 5, 2024) <http://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-94-rebbetzins-america>.