Rabbi Heather Miller ’08, Founder of Keeping It Sacred, on her Justice Work

Rabbi Heather Miller holding Torah in front of mountains

Rabbi Heather Miller ’08 has dedicated her career to creating accessible, relevant, and empowering opportunities. The author of RESOULUTIONS: A Practical Guide for Self-Repair and founder of Keeping It Sacred, a global community dedicated to the exploration of sacred texts, the practice of meaningful rituals, and the unwavering pursuit of social justice, Rabbi Miller leads in a way that directly responds to current events and community needs.

Rabbi Miller says, “We are in deep solidarity with people, constantly in the street, writing petitions, signing onto petitions, and in touch with people. It’s important to be a part of the community instead of apart from the community you are working in solidarity with.”

People from around the world, spanning time zones and hemispheres, are involved in Keeping It Sacred. Rabbi Miller shares, “I wanted to build the community that I thought should have always existed and should exist. I took a leap of faith that others were searching for that kind of community too. The Daf Yomi cycle started in January 2020 and then Covid struck and that weekly study of daily text mushroomed because people were looking for community and something regular to stabilize the giant upheaval that was going on in the world. People asked for a healing circle. Because we were studying Talmud, they wanted to know what ancient rabbis we were studying so we did a Shavuot all night ‘study with the rabbis,’ and then they wanted to know what we were doing for high holidays. Where there’s energy and people speak up and say that they want or need something – their soul is longing for something and spirit is searching for something – we make it happen. It keeps expanding naturally. We’re a very nimble organization and can start things immediately so we don’t lose energy; we can just be responsive and present for people.”

She adds, “We’re proving that true human connections can be beyond geographic boundaries. The global community includes a lot of non-Ashkenazi Jews. It’s interesting to have racial justice conversations because some might have a different experience of slavery or the slave trade in a different country. We talk about power, exploitation, and systemic white supremacy, and link it with antisemitism, homophobia, and the heteronormative capitalist structure that dominates the world. We try to support each other and the work we are doing locally, too. We’re connecting people around the world to each other, to Torah, to their own spirituality, and the depth of understanding life. People have visited each other and stood by each other in hard times. The rabbis could never have imagined this!”

Rabbi Miller is involved in interfaith work in the Los Angeles area as part of Keeping It Sacred. She says, “Interfaith organizing is not transactional. It is relational, personal, and built on authentic relationships and understanding.”

Rabbi Miller teaches Keeping It Sacred’s signature program Access Judaism. “I teach using a lot of what I learned directly from my classes at HUC – liturgical understanding from Rabbi Larry Hoffman, Ph.D. and Rabbi Rachel Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., and history from Rabbi Carole Balin, Ph.D. and Sharon Koren, Ph.D. Rabbi Wendy Zierler, Ph.D. is another professor who is continually an amazing source of support and inspiration. I’m also still in touch with Dr. Alyssa Gray. My professors are still there cheering me on. Those connections continue and I feel like I am building off of the learning I did at HUC.” Learn more about Keeping It Sacred’s work, programs, and offerings at keepingitsacred.com.

Rabbi Miller received her B.A. from Wellesley College in Peace and Justice Studies and Africana Studies, and is an alum of the NewGround Muslim-Jewish Partnership and the Jewish Outreach Institute’s Rabbinic Program, as well as a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, the Los Angeles Board of Rabbis, the Orange County Board of Rabbis, the Interfaith Presidents Council, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. She was named a Giant of Justice from CLUE-LA, and an Edah Community Fellow by the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Currently, she is an executive board member of the Women’s Rabbinic Network and immediate past-president of the Interfaith Council of Greater Rancho Santa Margarita, and has been named a 2022 Center for Rabbinic Innovation fellow.