Reuben Zellman

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Reuben Zellman
Reuben Zellman 20130626-0748.jpg
Born1978/1979 (age 39–40)[1]
ResidenceSan Francisco Bay Area
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
San Francisco State University
EmployerSan Francisco State University
San Francisco Community Music Center

Reuben Zellman is an American teacher, author, rabbi, and musician. He became the first openly transgender person accepted to the Reform Jewish seminary Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2003.[2][3][4]


Zellman received his B.A. in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. He received his master's degree in Hebrew literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.[5][6] He was ordained as a rabbi by the seminary in 2010.[7][8][9] He received a master's in choral conducting from San Francisco State University.[5][6]


From 2010 to 2018, Zellman served as the assistant rabbi and music director at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, California.[9][10][11] He is a lecturer in the music department of San Francisco State University, where he directs the Treble Singers, formerly known as the Women's Chorus.[1][5][6] Zellman also directs the New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus, a chorus for transgender, intersex, and genderqueer singers, at the Community Music Center in San Francisco.[1][6][12][13] He sings as a countertenor in the Choir of Men and Boys at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.[6]

Zellman writes and teaches about transgender issues and Judaism.[5][14] He has been involved with transgender activism since 1999, the year he transitioned.[2][14]

Personal life[edit]

Zellman was born and raised in California, and has lived mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1996.[6] Zellman is intersex and identifies as neither male nor female.[15] In 1999 he adopted he/his pronouns and a masculine gender expression, as he experienced harassment and felt it was "very dangerous" to have a non-binary presentation at that time.[15]

See also[edit]

  • Elliot Kukla, first openly transgender person ordained by Reform Judaism (2006)


  1. ^ a b c Madison, Alex (August 1, 2018). "Music center launches genderqueer chorus". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Berkofsky, Joe (2003-03-11). "HUC admits transgendered pupil". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
  3. ^ "Reform Devises Sex-Change Blessings –". 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  4. ^ Lewis, Justin Jaron (2009). Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times. McGill-Queen's Press. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  5. ^ a b c d "Reuben Zellman". School of Music. San Francisco State University. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Reuben Zellman". San Francisco Community Music Center. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  7. ^ Spence, Rebecca (2008-12-31). "Transgender Jews Now Out of Closet, Seeking Communal Recognition –". Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  8. ^ "The Reform Movement on LGBT Issues". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Rabbi Zellman Farewell Shabbat". Congregation Beth El. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Who We Are". TransTorah. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  11. ^ "The early shift, Bimah-bound, A transformative experience | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  12. ^ "New Voices choir invites transgender singers". San Francisco Examiner. July 26, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Freymann, Jeffrey (November 19, 2018). "New Voices Bay Area Makes its Debut". KDFC. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "About the IJSO › Staff". Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  15. ^ a b Gender Spectrum (August 1, 2018). "Interview with Rabbi Rueben [sic] Zellman". Retrieved October 7, 2018 – via YouTube.