Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus was inducted onto the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) at services at HUC-JIR’s New York campus on May 4, 2009. Rabbi Dreyfus is President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the international organization of nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis.
“As a preeminent leader of the Reform rabbinate and distinguished alumna of the College-Institute, Rabbi Dreyfus represents the vital partnership between the academic and rabbinical arms of the Reform Movement. She has been a catalyst for strengthening the role of the rabbi in congregational, communal, chaplaincy, and Jewish camping environments, and will be a source of expertise and vision as we plan for the future,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President.
She is past-president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, the first woman to hold this office. She is a founder and past-president of the Women's Rabbinic Network and is an Associate Chair of the Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet. She has served as president of the South Suburban Ministerial Association, and chair of the Rabbinic Advisory Committee of the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute Camp, where she teaches each summer. She is a member and immediate past-chair of the Ethics Commission of the Village of Homewood.
Rabbi Dreyfus is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, and is one of a select group of rabbis from North America to have completed a 3-year program of study called “The Rabbinic Leadership Institute.” In 2004, HUC-JIR awarded her the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, for 25 years of dedicated service to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Dreyfus was born in Chicago and grew up on the South Side. She received a B.A. in History from Fairhaven College in Bellingham, Washington in 1974. Upon entering HUC-JIR, she spent the first year in Jerusalem, and then studied at the New York campus, where she was ordained in 1979. Rabbi Dreyfus worked as a hospital chaplain at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and at Doctors Hospital in New York City. She was the Educational Coordinator at Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park, Michigan, and served for two years as the rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Kankakee, Illinois. From 1987 to 1998, she was the rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Park Forest, Illinois, and since 1998 has served as the rabbi of the merged B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in Homewood, Illinois.
Rabbi Dreyfus lives in Homewood, Illinois with her husband, James N. Dreyfus, M.D., a rheumatologist practicing in Munster, Indiana. They are the parents of Benjamin, Lina, (married to Adam Wallace), and David.