As one of the first women rabbis (and the first to be ordained while pregnant), Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus helped create a model for work-life balance for both women and men in the rabbinate. Dreyfus became a founding member of the Women’s Rabbinic Network in 1976 while she was still a student, three years before she was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1979. Although many in the first generation of women rabbis felt it was important to “shatter the stained-glass ceiling,” by becoming senior rabbis for large congregations, Dreyfus concentrated on smaller synagogues that would enable her to serve as rabbi while raising her three children. She worked as a hospital chaplain before returning to her native Chicago to become rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom (now B’nai Yehudah Beth Sholom) in 1987, which remained her home throughout her career. 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 June 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/rabbis/narrators/dreyfus-ellen>.