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Rachel Cowan

From New York to Israel, Rabbi Rachel Cowan had a hand in developing many aspects of Jewish life during the second half of the twentieth century. She was a pioneer in pushing for inclusivity in Jewish spaces and went to great efforts to make Judaism more accessible to those unfamiliar to it.

Antoinette Matlins

DAVAR: Vermont Jewish Women's History Project

Sandra Stillman Gartner and Ann Buffum interviewed Antoinette Matlins on July 20 and September 28, 2006, in South Woodstock, Vermont, as part of the Vermont Jewish Women's Oral History Project. Matlins recounts her diverse heritage, religious upbringing, conversion to Judaism, and her role in establishing a vibrant Jewish community in Vermont with her husband, Stuart Matlins, through the creation of Shir Shalom.

Elaine Zecher

Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Rabbi Elaine Zecher in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 20, 2024, for the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Zecher, senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston, shares her journey as a female rabbi, her experiences as the first woman rabbi at Temple Israel, her love for liturgy and involvement in prayer book projects, her spiritual practices, Temple Israel's work with AIDS victims, and her deep connection to the universal values of Judaism.

Carol Smokler

Katrina's Jewish Voices

Jayne Guberman interviewed Carol Smokler on August 13, 2007, in Lenox, Massachusetts, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Smokler discusses her Jewish upbringing, community involvement, experiences during Hurricane Katrina, and her feelings about the government's response to the disaster.

Jeanette Simon

Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Frances Godine interviewed Jeanette Simon on October 7 and February 7, 1998, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned the Century Oral History Project. Simon shares her memories of growing up during the Great Depression, her education at Wellesley College, and her active life, including her involvement in a women's investment club and her connection to Judaism.

Black and white photo of three women laughing in a kitchen

Let’s Fight for Gender Equality Across All Branches of Judaism

Savoy Curry

We shouldn’t assume that “progressive” branches of Judaism are always more feminist than traditional ones.

Mindy Portnoy

Washington D.C. Stories

Deborah Ross interviewed Rabbi Mindy Portnoy on November 9, 2010, in Washington, DC, as part of the Washington D.C. Stories Oral History Project. Rabbi Portnoy shares her personal journey and observations as a female rabbi, her motivations for entering the rabbinate, her perceptions of women in this new position, and her responses to challenges during a transformative period in Jewish life.

Emily Langowitz

Meet Me at Sinai

Jayne Guberman interviewed Emily Langowitz on February 8, 2015, in New York City, as part of the Meet Me at Sinai Oral History Project. Langowitz discusses her Jewish upbringing, her passion for Jewish learning, her experiences at Yale, her reflections on gender disparities in Judaism, and the influence of her renowned rabbi grandfather and Holocaust scholar grandfather on her spiritual journey.

Florence Schornstein

Women Who Dared

Abe Louise Young interviewed Florence Schornstein on January 11, 2005, in New Orleans, Louisiana as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Schornstein recounts her upbringing and journey with Judaism, highlighting her involvement in various organizations, including her role in the Civil Rights Movement, and reflects on the importance of humanitarian causes and encouraging young Jewish women to be active in their communities.

Stephen Kupperman

Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Stephen Kupperman on September 8, 2006, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina’s Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Kupperman speaks about his childhood in New Orleans, his involvement in Jewish non-profits, and his experience during Hurricane Katrina, including his evacuation to Baton Rogue, reflecting on the changes in the city since then.

Carolyn Blumenthal Danz

Weaving Women's Words

Roz Bornstein interviewed Carolyn Danz on May 11 and May 16, 2001, in Seattle, Washington, as part of the Weaving Women’s Words project. Danz shares her family history, childhood experiences with volunteer work, a career as a businesswoman, single parenthood, involvement in Jewish and civic organizations, and her active life, including founding the Northwest Croquet Association.

Andy Busch

Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Andy Busch on August 2, 2006, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Rabbi Bush discusses his childhood, rabbinical training, serving as the rabbi of Touro Synagogue in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, their evacuation and exile experience, rebuilding the community in Houston, and reflecting on the impact of the storm and the efforts of the Jewish Reform Movement.

Nancy Timm

Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Nancy Timm on August 22, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana as a part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Project. Nancy, a clinical social worker, discusses her New Orleans roots, upbringing, Jewish faith, involvement in various organizations, Hurricane Katrina's disruption including evacuation experiences and her daughter's challenges due to the storm, shifts in her counseling work, and her evolving relationship with Judaism.

Women with arms around each other, backs turned

Jewish Feminists, History, and the HUC Report

JWA Staff

JWA responds to the recent report on the investigation into sexual misconduct at HUC. 


Agunot are women who are unable to obtain a rabbinic divorce because their husbands or husbands’ male next of kin are unable to give one, leaving them chained in marital captivity. Although many efforts have been made to address these problems, for those most part agunot in halakhically observant communities continue to face deep-seated challenges.

Angela Buchdahl

Angela Warnick Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as a rabbi and cantor. She is the senior rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York and is a major leader in American Judaism’s continued work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and innovation.

Painting with the outline of a human figure. Grey background with overlapping square shapes. One contains another small outlined face that faces the outlined figure.

A Trip to Crown Heights

Belle Gage

I was visiting Brooklyn, New York with a group of students in my Reform synagogue’s confirmation class. 

Camp counselor surrounded by campers, all wearing white. Sitting on benches during services.

In the Image of God?

Mica Maltzman

When I was younger, around the time of my consecration, my vision of God was simple.

Ellen Dreyfus

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.

Elyse Goldstein

As one of the first women rabbis in Canada, Elyse Goldstein has broken down barriers by founding inclusive communities for learning and prayer.

Elaine Zecher

Rabbi Elaine Zecher uses her own experiences of illness and struggle to counsel congregants and craft prayers for Mishkan T’fillah and Mishkan HaNefesh, the prayer books of the Reform Movement.

Ellen Dreyfus

As one of the very first women to be ordained, Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus helped shape policy for rabbis throughout the Reform movement.
NFTY STR Spring Kallah 2016

Leading a Sea of Voices

Hannah Himmelgreen

I never realized that it was possible for my whole outlook on Judaism to be transformed in an hour and a half, or that a few moments of hearing voices come together in prayer could move me so deeply. But that’s exactly what happened when I led my youth group in Shabbat services this past March. 

Ray Frank's Yom Kippur Sermon, 1890

Read the 1890 Yom Kippur sermon by Ray Frank, the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit, and consider what unites and divides the Jewish people both historically and today.

Miri Gold

In a landmark case in 2012, Miri Gold became the first non-Orthodox rabbi to have her salary paid by the Israeli government.


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