Madeline Budman ‘24
Please tell me about your Jewish journey and your journey to HUC-JIR.
I like to joke that when I grew up, I didn’t know that men could be rabbis! When I became a Bat Mitzvah, the rabbi, cantor, and president at my synagogue were all women, and I was so fortunate to be nurtured by a community that was strongly Jewish and strongly feminist. I first started thinking about the rabbinate at NFTY and URJ Kutz Camp, and solidified my decision at Georgetown University, where I studied English, Jewish Civilization, and Women’s and Gender Studies. I knew I wanted to become a rabbi because, to me, it is the career in which I can unite my passions for writing and learning, Judaism, and feminism all in one job.
This month is women’s history month, and this year we are celebrating 50 years of women in the rabbinate. Why is it important to you to recognize women’s impact?
It is imperative that we recognize the brave, trailblazing women who fought against all odds to go where no woman had gone before. They made sacrifices so that all women who followed them could be here today. And it is important that we recognize that all things are not equal just because we’ve had 50 years of women in the rabbinate. Every day, those who aren’t men fight for representation in our Reform Jewish spaces, for income equality, against discrimination and sexual harassment, and equal access to mentorship and scholarship. We honor the legacy of the women who came before us by not being complacent with their contributions, and striving to continue to make our Jewish community more inclusive and equitable for people of all gender identities.
How are you impacting our HUC-JIR community and the communities you serve?
I hope that I am impacting the communities that I serve through bringing them queer and feminist scholarship that offers a modern and inclusive lens to examine our Judaism. I am proud to be able to make my impact in the dynamic Cincinnati Jewish community, and if I’ve impacted them in just a fraction of the ways that they’ve impacted me, then I’ve done an excellent job.
Describe HUC-JIR in one word.
What do you enjoy in your free time?
When I’m not studying, working in Cincinnati’s Jewish community, or traveling to my student pulpit, I’m brewing kombucha, reading, cuddling with my cat Percy, trying out new Peloton workouts, and getting creative in the kitchen with my husband Aaron (also a third-year rabbinical student!).