Amy Eilberg

Content type
Collection

Honoring the Real First Woman Rabbi

by Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Regina Jonas’s story had been written out of history twice—once because the Nazis robbed her of life and again because the post-war Jewish community was unready to celebrate her story.

Amy Eilberg

Defying expectations placed on her as the first woman rabbi ordained by the Conservative Movement, Amy Eilberg forged her own path as a chaplain and pastoral counselor.

Amy Eilberg

The first woman rabbi ordained by the Conservative Movement, Amy Eilberg forged her own path as a chaplain and pastoral counselor.

Amy Eilberg

As it turned out, in the spring of 1985, I was to be the first woman so ordained.

Raising Up the Light, 2010

Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis

Elizabeth Imber

On a cold New England night, as the first flurries of the season began to fall, members of the Jewish community in Boston piled into the sanctuary at Temple Reyim to kindle the lights of Hanukkah and celebrate four remarkable Jewish women. Sally Priesand, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Amy Eilberg, and Sara Hurwitz, the first-ordained North American Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative women rabbis and Open Orthodox rabba, respectively, gathered together for the first time, in an event cosponsored by the Jewish Women’s Archive, to share their inspirational stories, to celebrate the progress that has been made across the Jewish movements, and to discuss what still needs to be done.

JTS Faculty Senate votes to admit women

October 24, 1983

Following a lengthy and intense debate within the Conservative movement, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) faculty senate, on October 24, 1983, voted 34-8 to admit women to the JTS Rabbinical S

Amy Eilberg ordained as first female Conservative rabbi

May 12, 1985
Amy Eilberg became the first woman ordained as a Conservative Rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary's commencement exercises in New York City.

Reform Judaism in the United States

The 150-year history of organized Reform Judaism in the United States has been marked by a continuous adjustment to roles and expectations for women in Judaism that, in many ways, has been the movement’s signature defining feature. The Reform Movement has been a pioneer in forwarding women’s public engagement and leadership as Jews. At the same time, those advances have often been accompanied by experiences of exclusion and discrimination that have, at times, belied the movement’s rhetorical embrace of equality.

Rabbis in the United States

Since 1972, when Sally Priesand became the first woman in the world ordained by a rabbinical seminary, hundreds of women have become rabbis in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements. In recent years, womenhave also entered the Orthodox rabbinate, using a variety of titles, including rabbi.

Sally Jane Priesand

On June 3, 1972, when Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ordained Sally Jane Priesand rabbi, she became the first woman in America to become a rabbi and the first in the world ordained by a rabbinical seminary.

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. The accomplishments of Jewish feminists have transformed American Jewish life, even as the ultimate goal of gender equity and shared power has yet to be fully realized.

Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Amy Eilberg, ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985, is notable as the first woman ordained as a rabbi by the Conservative movement. Her multifaceted career as a chaplain, spiritual director, kindness coach, and peace and justice educator has focused on serving as a resource to help others achieve personal, interpersonal and spiritual growth.

Conservative Judaism in the United States

Women have played a pivotal role in propelling the Conservative Movement to confront essential issues including Jewish education and gender equality. The Movement’s attention to issues such as the religious education of Jewish girls, the status of the agunah (deserted wife), equal participation of women in ritual, the ordination of women, and innovations in liturgy and ritual to speak to women’s experiences has helped to shape the self-definition of Conservative Judaism, and has enabled talented Jewish women to reach new heights in religious leadership.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox