Laura Geller

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.

One of the first women rabbis, Laura Geller has helped create new possibilities for Jewish women, from rituals to leadership roles. In 1976, shortly after her ordination, Geller became the Hillel director for the University of Southern California, where she created a Jewish Women’s Research Group to explore the intersection of Jewish studies and women’s studies. It was there that she helped organize a national conference, “Illuminating the Unwritten Scroll: Women’s Spirituality and Jewish Tradition.” In the early 1990s she created the Jewish Feminist Center, which organized classes and women’s Seders. At the twentieth anniversary of the ordination of American women rabbis in 1993, Geller spoke out about the fact 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, where she became rabbi emerita in 2016.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Laura Geller." (Viewed on May 22, 2024) <>.