Rabbi Deborah Waxman
The first woman rabbi to head a Jewish congregational union and seminary, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., (she/her) became president and CEO of Reconstructing Judaism in 2014. Since then, she has drawn on her training as a rabbi and historian to be the Reconstructionist movement’s leading voice in the public square. Rabbi Waxman projects a vision of Judaism that embraces all people and inspires Jews to be strong allies to the most vulnerable among us.
Rabbi Waxman is the creator and host of the podcast, Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience. In connection with LGTB History Month 2020, she was named an LGTB Icon.
Since 2002, Rabbi Waxman has taught courses on Reconstructionist Judaism and practical rabbinics at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Presidential Professor.
Her academic publications include a chapter on bar/bat mitzvah, co-authored with Rabbi Joshua Lesser, in A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 3 (The Reconstructionist Press 2014); “Multiple Conceptualizations of the Divine” in Sh’ma (April 2014); “ ‘A Lady Sometimes Blows the Shofar’: Women’s Religious Equality in the Postwar Reconstructionist Movement” in A Jewish Feminine Mystique?: Jewish Women in Postwar America (Rutgers University Press 2010); “Distinctiveness and Universalism: How to Remain Jewish if Jewish Isn’t Better” in Zeek (Fall 2010); and “The Challenge of Implementing Reconstructionism: Art, Ideology, and the Society for the Advancement of Judaism’s Sanctuary Mural,” co-authored with Joyce Norden, in American Jewish History (September 2009). She serves on the American Jewish Historical Society’s Academic Council.
Waxman is a cum laude graduate of Columbia College, Columbia University, and graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She earned a Ph.D. in American Jewish history from Temple University.
In 2016, Rabbi Waxman was named to the annual Forward 50 list of most influential Jews by the Forward, a pre-eminent American Jewish publication. In naming her to this list, the Forward remarked: “In the long communal conversation over how to relate to Jews who marry non-Jews, those in the ‘be welcoming’ camp won a major battle this year, thanks in large part to Rabbi Deborah Waxman.”