Pioneering Female Rabbi
Congregation Nahalat Shalom, the Southwest Center for Jewish Renewal, celebrates the acquisition of its home at 3606 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, 2000. All are welcome.
The day's events include an opening ceremony, art exhibits, klezmer music, dance and children's activities that demonstrate the unique spirit of the congregation that is dedicated to exploring the roots of Jewish spirituality, nourishing the arts, creating diversity, working for human rights, and fostering Jewish learning that supports these values.
Eighteen years after its inception by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb - one of the first ten women rabbis to be ordained - this congregation of 130 families has found a home at the former Boulevard Baptist Church. It is believed that Nahalat Shalom is the first congregation founded by a woman rabbi to acquire its own synagogue. Rabbi Gottlieb is a nationally known scholar, peace advocate, storyteller and performer.
Some of Nahalat Shalom's programs include: the Center for Memory and hope, encompassing the Arab-Jewish Dialogue and outreach to Holocaust survivors; the Sephardic Heritage Project offering monthly services in Ladino, the ancient language of Spanish Jews; the Artist Collective; the Jewish Coffee House; and Jewish Heritage Education, a full program of Jewish Education from pre-school to post Bar and Bat Mitzvah classes plus adult education.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb is one of the first ten women in Jewish history to enter Rabbinic life and, in 1980, became the first woman ordained in the Jewish Renewal Movement. She began her Rabbinic studies in 1972 at H.U.C. in New York. During that year she was accepted by several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Irving that year she was accepted by several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Irving Greenberg, as a student for private ordination. From 1973-1979 she served as sole rabbi to Temple Beth Or of the Deaf and Hebrew Association of the deaf. Over the next seven years she studied at J.T.S. and with many rabbis, including Rabbi's Zalman Schacter, Everett Gendler, Wolf Kelman and Elie Wiesel in academic settings.
While most of the Jewish community was focused on equal access, Lynn was engaged in "the transformation of Judaism itself." *During the next decade, Lynn helped forge what has now become the Jewish Renewal Movement by pioneering a nonsexist, ecologically responsible Jewish peace culture with a special focus on creativity and the arts. By 1977, Lynn had become a "teacher and spiritual guide...to thousands of American Jews...and led them to reclaim their Jewish heritage, to discover the divine presence, and perhaps, for the first time in their life, to feel at home in the Jewish community." * She was featured in Newsweek, the New York Times, the cover of Lilith Magazine and Keeping Posted and interviewed in newspapers throughout the country for her pioneering work as a woman rabbi, peace activist and performer. She was the very first woman to ascend the pulpit of hundreds of synagogues throughout the United States, opening dozens of communities to the possibilities of women in Rabbinic leadership.
In 1982, Lynn was invited to Albuquerque, New Mexico by several unaffiliated Jewish women and men to initiate a new congregation. Nahalat Shalom, now in its 18th year, has given rise to Nahalat Shalom's intergenerational Klezmer Band (22 members); a thirty person Jewish Artist Collective, a senior Havurah, a Rosh Hodesh Circle, a Jewish Muslim Dialogue group, an eco-Kashrut collective, a thriving religious school dedicated to Jewish learning and the arts, a Youth Group, a men's group, a Torah study group, an ongoing class devoted to exploring Jewish spirituality, a Jewish Coffee House, several Jewish arts festivals, Desert Sage: a community run journal dedicated to Jewish spirituality, social justice and the arts, and The Sephardic Heritage Institute.
Through the spiritual guidance of Rabbi Lynn, Nahalat Shalom has attracted 130 households of individuals never before affiliated to Jewish institutions and created a vibrant Jewish culture committed to the arts, social justice and a spirituality which embraces the whole of our community. As Susannah Heschel has written, "Lynn Gottlieb's remarkable insight into the spiritual dimensions of Judaism brings out religious meaning that speak to every person of faith."
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