Elyse Goldstein

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Elyse Goldstein is the first female rabbi in Canada, although she was born in the United States.[1] Rabbi Goldstein is also the first woman to be elected as president of the interdenominational Toronto Board of Rabbis and president of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto.[2]

Youth and early life[edit]

Goldstein was born in 1955 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA.[2] Goldstein's parents, Abraham (1918–1997) and Terry (Gallant, born 1922),[2] were natives of greater New York City. Her father was a purchasing agent and her mother the director of a youth organization.[2] As a student, Elyse Goldstein served at Beth Or, a synagogue for the deaf in the New York City, and she remains committed to Jewish education for the deaf.

Rabbinical school[edit]

Goldstein was educated at Brandeis University (B.A. summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978). She was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1983.[3]

Rabbinical life[edit]

Her first rabbinic positions were as assistant rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto between 1983 and 1986. From 1986 to 1991, she served as rabbi of Temple Beth David of Canton, Massachusetts, before returning to Toronto.[3]

In 1983, she married Baruch Browns-Sienna (born 1956), a Jewish educator and computer software producer, and they have three sons: Noam Ezra (born 1989), Carmi Shalom (born 1991), and Micah Benjamin (born 1994).[2]

In 1991, Rabbi Goldstein founded Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, an institute in the tradition of the Lehrhaus in Germany, offering Jewish studies to adults in classes, lectures, retreats, and in-depth seminars.[2] It is the first such institution under Reform Jewish auspices in Canada and one of only a handful in North America. Housed in its own building and serving an increasing number of singles and unaffiliated Jews as well as established members of the community, Kolel became a significant and singular presence on the Jewish educational scene of Toronto. In 2011, Rabbi Goldstein retired from Kolel to found a new Reform synagogue in downtown Toronto, City Shul.

Rabbi Goldstein lectures on campuses and to Jewish groups across Canada and appears frequently on radio and television.

Rabbi Goldstein served on the Editorial Advisory Board of Canadian Jewish News and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

Writings[edit]

She is the author of four books at Jewish Lights Publishing:[4]

  • ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens (1998)
  • The Women’s Torah Commentary (2000)
  • The Women’s Haftarah Commentary (2003)
  • New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future (2004)

She writes a monthly column for the Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Canadian Women's Studies, The Journal of Reform Judaism and other periodicals.

She is one of seven women featured in the ground-breaking Francine Zuckerman's documentary Half the Kingdom.[5]

Awards[edit]

In 1996, the YWCA of Metropolitan Toronto presented her with the Woman of Distinction Award for excellence in the field of education. Her book ReVisions: Seeing Torah Through a Feminist Lens won the Canadian Jewish Book Award in the field of Bible 1998. She was named ORT "Woman of the Year" in 2001. Elyse Goldstein received the 2004 UJA Rabbinic Achievement Award. She is the 2005 recipient of the most prestigious award in Jewish education, the internationally recognized Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.[6] In May 2008 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph, Norma Baumel (2001). Klein, Ruth; Dimant, Frank, eds. From Immigration to Integration, the Canadian Jewish Experience: A Millennium Edition. pp. 182–195. Elyse Goldstein is one of many Canadian Rabbis born and/or trained in the USA. In the somewhat more Orthodox Canadian Jewish community, where synagogue egalitarianism has developed much more slowly than in the United States, she has been a path breaker. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Michael, Brown (1 March 2009). "Elyse Goldstein". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b "Goldstein, Elyse". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  4. ^ "Books by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein". Jewish Lights Publishing. 
  5. ^ Kraft, Frances (9 December 2010). "Jewish feminists look back and ahead". Canadian Jewish News. 
  6. ^ "The 2005 Covenant Award for Exceptional Educators". Kolel. 
  7. ^ "Rabbi Elyse Goldstein staff profile". Prosserman JCC. 

External links[edit]

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