The first female ordained rabbi in the United States, Sally Priesand, recent spoke about her life at Temple Emanu-El of West Essex.
Priesand may have been the first, but countless other women followed her.
She started her April 15 presentation saying, “I decided I wanted to be a rabbi in 1962 at the age of 16. Fortunately, my parents gave me one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child: the courage to dare and to dream."
She continued: "With their encouragement, I was able to remain focused on my goal, relatively unconcerned that no woman had ever been ordained rabbi by a theological seminary and determined to succeed despite the doubts I heard expressed in the organized Jewish community.”
Priesand was ordained in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 3, 1972, by Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).
After serving as rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City and Temple Beth El in Elizabeth, she later became spiritual leader of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls — a position she has held until her 2006 retirement.
Priesand has also served on the board of each of the major institutions of Reform Judaism: the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 1997, the Women’s Rabbinic Network was instrumental in establishing at HUC-JIR the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship in Jewish Women’s Studies.
For more information on Priesand's visit, contact Barbara Levadi at (973) 992-5060.