Leading Women Rabbis and Scholars Present 2022 HUC Ordination Addresses

Leading women rabbis and scholars presented the 2022 HUC ordination addresses, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of women in the rabbinate. Rabbi Sally Priesand ‘72 presented the Cincinnati Ordination Address; Rabbi Laura Geller ‘76, Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, presented the Los Angeles Ordination Address; and Judith Plaskow, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College and the first feminist theologian presented the New York Ordination Address.

Sally PriesandRabbi Priesand shared, “I would ask each of you, our ordinees, to think of today as the day when you respond to God’s call with the time-honored response of our ancestors: “Hineini – Here I am.”   This was Abraham’s response when called by God to sacrifice his son. Moses uttered the same word at the burning bush. Joseph said hineini when Jacob sent him to find his brothers. Centuries later, at a time of disaster and difficulty, God asks, “Who shall I send, and who will go for us?” The Prophet Isaiah responded, “Hin’ni sh’la’chay’ni” — “Here I am; send me.” These are just a few of the fourteen times in the Hebrew Bible when individuals are asked to show themselves fully present at a time of challenge, ready to respond for the benefit of others and the well-being of all. Hineini – here I am – the Jewish response that reflects a great deal about the character, commitment, and integrity of the one who speaks it.” Read Rabbi Priesand’s full speech here.

Laura GellerRabbi Geller stated, “[This] is a moment for you to reflect on your journey so far and to imagine the path that is unfolding before you. And for all of us, it is a moment to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman to be ordained at a rabbinical seminary, Rabbi Sally Priesand ’72. So much has changed over these 50 years. More than 1,500 women have been ordained across the Jewish world. Women-identified rabbis have been an important part of the transformation of Judaism, supported by the scholarship, leadership and vision that has brought the insights of feminism and women identified voices from the margins into the center of the Jewish story. Every dimension of Judaism is different – theology, liturgy, ritual, leadership, even synagogue architecture. Judaism has become more inclusive, more welcoming, more meaningful. Men as well as women and non-binary Jews have benefited from these changes. This is a moment of real celebration…Yes, we have come a long way and yet, at the same time, we need to remember that while it only took our ancestors 40 years to get to the promised land, we still have a long way to go.” Read Rabbi Geller’s full speech here.

Judith PlaskowProfessor Plaskow remarked, “I am simultaneously grateful, humbled, and daunted by the opportunity and challenge of speaking to you on this fiftieth anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Sally Preisand. As a girl who wanted to be a rabbi in the 1960’s but dismissed the idea as impossible, I am deeply moved to have the privilege of celebrating this milestone both for what it says about Rabbi Preisand and for all it has meant in terms of opening the rabbinate to women. I want to honor the clarity, courage, and pure grit that Rabbi Preisand needed to get through rabbinical school, the challenges she faced there and afterwards, and the personal sacrifices she had to make as the first woman in this role. When we celebrate the ways her determination changed the face of the rabbinate, let’s not forget the energy it takes to go where no one has gone before. Hundreds of women have walked through the door she opened, not only bringing their individual talents and energy, insights and leadership to the Jewish community but modeling an expanded sense of Jewish possibility for untold others and paving the way for the ordination of other previously marginalized groups.” Read Professor Plaskow’s full speech here.
Read about the Class of 2022 here. Read more about the Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York ceremonies.