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Dianne Cohler-Esses

As the first woman rabbi from the Syrian community, Dianne Cohler-Esses has used teaching to open up new possibilities for others. Raised in a traditional Syrian-American community, Cohler-Esses has written about her struggle for acceptance, explaining her desire to become a rabbi to friends and family, and the painful and surprisingly beautiful process of seeking permission to deliver her father’s eulogy at his Orthodox synagogue. After her ordination by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1995, Cohler-Esses began working for Mishpacha, an online outreach, education, and support program for Jewish families across America. In 1998 she became co-director and senior educator for the Bronfman Youth Fellowship. She taught for four years as scholar in residence at the UJA Federation before becoming director of lifelong learning at Kehilat Romemu, a Jewish renewal community, in 2012. She continues to write, speak, and teach at Romemu and elsewhere on issues of Jewish tradition, ethnicity, and disability. 

More on: Feminism, Teachers, Rabbis
Dianne Cohler-Esses
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Photo of Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, courtesy of Dianne Cohler-Esses.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dianne Cohler-Esses." (Viewed on November 12, 2018) <>.


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