Religions and Spirituality

First Female Rabbi to Speak at B’nai Abraham

October 28, 2011 at 12:00 AM


A Kabbalat Shabbat service, symposium and dinner, sponsored by the Temple B'nai Abraham Sisterhood and social action committee, will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at Temple B’nai Abraham, located at 300 East Northfield Road, Livingston. Join us for this early service, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and has an emphasis on singing and congregational participation. Dinner and symposium will follow at 7:30.  

The guest speaker for the symposium will be Rabbi Sally Preisand, who broke the rabbinical glass ceiling to become the first female rabbi to be ordained in the United States. Today most people don't blink when they meet a woman rabbi—that's how ubiquitous they are. But once upon a time, a young woman named Sally Priesand became the first American female rabbi and paved the way for scores of other women to follow.

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This year, in honor of the 40th anniversary of her ordination, Priesand is embarking on a lecture tour, and her talk will be after services and dinner at the first Kabbalat Shabbat program of the year. Her topic will be "Reflections on My Life as a Rabbi."

Ordained in June 1972 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Priesand served as rabbi of Monmouth Reform Temple from 1981 until her retirement in 2006; she is now rabbi emerita there.

Priesand has served in many capacities in Reform Judaism, often as a member of executive committees, and as editor of the Central Conference of American Rabbis newsletter for three years. In 2007, she invited her female rabbinic colleagues of all denominations to join her in donating their professional and personal papers to the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati to document the history of women in the rabbinate.

Locally, she is president of Interfaith Neighbors, chairs the Clergy Advisory Committee of Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey and serves on the national Clergy Advisory Board of Planned Parenthood. She chairs the membership committee of the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College and is an active supporter of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County.

In 2009, Priesand received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. In 2010, in honor of its 125th anniversary, “Good Housekeeping” magazine named her one of 125 women who changed our lives and our world.

Please join us to hear about Priesand's exciting journey. Kabbalat Shabbat services begin at 6:30 PM followed by dinner and the program. Call the office at (973) 994-2290 to make reservations. The cost for the dinner and symposium is $20 per person in advance or $25 per person at the door. Please call in advance so we can order the proper amount of food. Bring a friend along too!

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