Laura Geller

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Rabbi Laura Geller "is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California. She is the first woman to be selected to lead a major metropolitan synagogue. Prior to being chosen for this position in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. Among her accomplishments at AJCongress was the creation of the AJCongress Feminist Center which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. She came to AJCongress in 1990 after fourteen years as the Director of Hillel at the University of Southern California. While at Hillel, Rabbi Geller was a co-organizer of the award-winning national conference called “Illuminating the Unwritten Scroll: Women’s Spirituality and Jewish Tradition.” Rabbi Geller has written chapters in many books, including Beginning Anew; Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality; On Being a Jewish Feminist; The Jewish Woman; Spinning a Sacred Yarn; Life Cycles; Preaching in the New Millennium; The Women’s Torah Commentary; The Women’s Haftara Commentary; Hineni in Our Lives; Living Words V: A Source Book on Israel in a Time of Struggle; Divorce Is a Mitzvah; Broken Tablets: Restoring the Ten Commandments and Ourselves; Jewish Peoplehood: Change and Challenge, and Gender and Judaism. She was on the Editorial Board of the groundbreaking The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary in which she has two essays. She has also been featured in several books including Rabbis: The Many Faces of Judaism; White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America; In Sweet Company: Conversations with Extraordinary Women About Living a Spiritual Life; and The Mystery of Being Jewish. A popular teacher and speaker, Rabbi Geller gave the Baccalaureate Speech at Brown University in 1986 and the Ordination Sermon at the Hebrew Union College in 1990, and she was one of the preachers in the celebration of the tercentennial of Yale University. She has taught at the University of Judaism, the University of Southern California, the Wexner Fellows Program, and the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Rabbi Geller was a Trustee on the Board of Brown University from 2001-2007 and the Board of Governors of the Hebrew Union College from 2001-2008. She was the founding Chair of the Beverly Hills Human Relations Commission. She is a Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a graduate of the first cohort of rabbis from the Institute of Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Geller has received many honors, including the A.C.L.U. of Southern California Award for Fostering Racial and Cultural Harmony, the Alan J. Kassin Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement, the Los Angeles County Commission on the Status of Women Recognition Award, and the Woman of the Year Award from the California State Legislature. She was named as one of the “Hundred Most Distinguished Brown University Alumni of the Past Century” in 2000, and named in 2007 by the Forward newspaper as one of the “Forward 50 Individuals… who are doing or saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews…view themselves… (and who) have left a mark.” She was featured in the PBS documentary The Jewish Americans. Rabbi Geller graduated from Brown University in 1971 and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976. She was the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. She is married to Richard A. Siegel, and she is the mother of Joshua and Elana Goldstein and the step-mother of Andy and Ruth Siegel." [1]

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  1. Laura Geller, Temple Emanuel, accessed January 27, 2009.
  2. Advisory Council, NewGround, accessed January 27, 2009.