Rabbis

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German-Jewish Pietists: Attitudes towards Women

Despite their small numbers, the introspective and penitential religious outlook of the German-Jewish Piestists had a significant and lasting impact on European Jewry. Written by men and intended for a male audience, the Pietists’ writings heighten the profound ambivalence toward women that is inherent in the rabbinic tradition

 Protesters holding signs outside Supreme Court on Day Roe v Wade was overturned

The Limits of Framing Abortion Rights as a Religious Issue

Savoy Curry

The right to abortion has deep roots across religions. But framing the fight for bodily autonomy as a religious issue has limits.

Episode 74: A Half-Century of Women Rabbis

Fifty years ago, Rabbi Sally Priesand made history by becoming the first woman rabbi in America. In this episode of Can We Talk?, women rabbis from three Jewish denominations reflect on the milestone. We speak with Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, Rabba Sara Hurwitz, and Rabbi Sandra Lawson about the challenges they’ve faced, and about how their presence in the rabbinate is shaping the Jewish community. This is the final episode in our three-part anniversary series.

Sara Hurwitz

Sara Hurwitz was the first Orthodox woman to be publicly ordained and serve in an Orthodox synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. She went on to co-found, with Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to provide a credentialed pathway for Orthodox women to be ordained and serve as rabbis.

Yeshivat Maharat

Founded by Rabba Sara Hurwitz and Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Maharat is the first Orthodox rabbinical school to ordain women. Building upon expanding education and ritual roles for Orthodox women in America that began in the late twentieth century, themselves outgrowths of American feminism, as of 2021 Yeshivat Maharat had graduated over forty women who powerfully impact Orthodox and wider Jewish communities all over the world.

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.

Lauren Tuchman

Lauren Tuchman, the first blind woman ordained as a rabbi, is best known for her championing inclusive Torah and disability justice. Though she is ordained in the Conservative movement, most of her work has been in community organizing and other non-congregational settings.

Sketch of Ray Frank, 1893

Ray Frank, A Complex Figure: Let’s Talk about Honesty and Self Care

Eleanor Harris

In March, my RVF piece about Ray Frank went up on the blog; however, parts of this blog post trouble me.

Rabbi Michelle Dardashti

Rabbi Michelle Dardashti currently serves as the Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel and Associate University Chaplain for the Jewish Community at Brown.

Rabbi Sandra Lawson

Rabbi Sandra Lawson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up in a military family. She graduated from Saint Leo University magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.

Rachel Cowan, 1941 - 2018

Every inflection point in Rachel’s life became a source of mission and activism: as half of a young intermarried couple in the 1970s, she pushed for inclusivity in the Jewish community… When she became Jewish and then a rabbi (she was ordained in 1989 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion), she used her dual perspective as both outsider and insider to sense what was needed in the Jewish world.

Regina Persisted Book Cover

An Interview with Rabbi Sandy Sasso about Regina Jonas

Judith Rosenbaum

JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Rabbi Sandy Sasso about her 2018 children’s book, about the world’s first woman rabbi. Watch their fascinating conversation here, and learn about Regina Jonas’s legacy and impact on Rabbi Sasso and the other women rabbis who followed in her footsteps.

Topics: Rabbis, Fiction
Stock Image of Cat with Cat Food

I'm Over It

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

I came to spend the rest of my afternoon hauling a case of cat food to the local housing project. I was glad to do it, though I didn’t know why the woman had reached out to our temple ... She was very happy to see me, but, in part due to the fact that I was wearing sneakers, I’m pretty sure she thought I was a well-meaning volunteer. When she did realize that I was, in fact, the rabbi, and not some emergency cat food delivery service, she got VERY EXCITED.

Stage with Microphone and Stool

Dear Male Comedian

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

I spend a lot of time trying to shift the focus away from my appearance, my love life, and my sexuality. By sizing me up in front of my entire community, you undid three years of that work in 30 seconds.

Topics: Feminism, Comedy, Rabbis
Rabbi Jennifer Singer

Faith and Feminism

Minnah Stein

Last year I met Rabbi Jennifer Singer, and I immediately looked up to her. She’s a strong, spiritual, and independent woman who commands the room with her lively personality. She’s an excellent rabbi, and I always leave her sermons with new ideas and ways of thinking. 

Josie Rosman Trip Photo

Lessons from Rabbi Lauren

Josephine Rosman

All my life, I’ve been learning lessons both about the Torah and about how to live a fulfilling life from Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann at Kol Tzedek (my synagogue) in Philadelphia. From services and Torah school, to the time we spent together prepping for my bat mitzvah, Rabbi Lauren was the person who taught me how to look at Jewish texts in a new light, and turn them into something inspiring and relevant. She taught me about the concept of social justice, and how as Jews, we have a moral responsibility to make the world a better place. 

Dorrit Corwin and Rabbi Laura Geller

Rabbi Laura Geller: Torah of Jewish Feminism

Dorrit Corwin

I wasn’t always easily identifiable as the Jewish feminist activist I am today. In fact, I was a Hebrew school drop-out ... but then I discovered Rabbi Laura Geller.

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz at her Ordination

The Consequences of Professional “Negging”

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

Having started my career young (and single, and a woman), I feared that congregations wouldn’t take me seriously. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that, once congregations invited me to be their rabbi, they’ve treated me as one, without question.

Topics: Feminism, Rabbis

Bernard H. Mehlman

Rabbi Bernard Mehlman is the senior scholar at Temple Israel of Boston. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the Soviet Union and helped facilitate the emigration of several high-profile refuseniks in the Boston area.

Ronne Friedman

Ronne Friedman served as a rabbi at Temple Israel of Boston for more than thirty years. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the former Soviet Union and continued his engagement with the movement for Soviet Jewry after his return to Boston.

Roy B. Einhorn

Roy Einhorn has been the cantor at Temple Israel in Boston for more than 35 years. In the 1980s, he made several trips to the Soviet Union as part of the temple’s efforts to support refuseniks.
The Sisterhood 50: America's Influential Women Rabbis

Finding My Way Back to Rachel Adler

Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr

In fact, for most of my life, I rejected the notion that I was a feminist. I was a self-decribed equalist. I did not want to be associated with anything resembling the bra-burning, Lilith-reading farbrente feminists I had learned about in school.

Topics: Rabbis
Rabbi Elana Zaiman and Forever Letter Composite

Writing Forever Letters with Rabbi Elana Zaiman

Abby Richmond

Elana Zaiman was the first woman rabbi in a family chain of rabbis spanning six generations. Growing up in a traditional Conservative synagogue where women were not allowed to read from the Torah, Rabbi Zaiman’s decision to become a rabbi and forward a new iteration of her family’s legacy made her a pioneer in her family history.

Topics: Rabbis

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