Bio & Press Clips

Rabbi Rosalind Glazer Photo: James Hall
Rabbi Rosalind Glazer Photo: James Hall

Professional Activities

  • Member, MARAM, the Israeli Council of Progressive Rabbis (current)
  • Member, OHALAH, Rabbis for Jewish Renewal (current)
  • Member, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (current)
  • Member, Hevraya, Institute for Jewish Spirituality (current)
  • Member, Rabbis for Human Rights Israel (current) and RHR-North America (former)
  • Rabbinic Vice Chair (former), International Association of Rabbis for Women of the Wall
  • Rabbinic Co-Chair (former), Year of Civil Discourse Task Force, NORCAL Board of Rabbis
  • Rabbinic Advisory Committee Member (former), Shalom Bayit Jewish Response to Domestic Violence
  • Rabbinic Advisory Council Member (former), Progressive Jewish Alliance
  • Rabbis Circle Member, Year of Civil Discourse (former), Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Founding Member, Women Clergy Network, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • Founding Member, Rabbis for Respectful Dialogue
  • Steering Committee Member (former), Friends of Women of the Wall – Bay Area
  • Member, Clergy Advisory Council (former), CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
  • Member, Synagogue Transformation and Renewal (STAR-PEER), Alumni Association

“After serving as an ordained rabbi for almost 12 years and a cantorial soloist for almost 27 years, I now offer my rabbinic services through Joyful Jerusalem and Destination Celebrations in Israel and around the globe. I create and preside over dynamic lifecycle rituals, facilitate engaging workshops and lead joyful holiday celebrations. The present focus of my work is family Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations at the Robinson’s Arch and Archeological Park at the Davidson’s Center by the Western Wall in Jerusalem.”

“I served as rabbi of Reform Congregation Beth Israel Judea of San Francisco, CA, from the summer of 2006 until the summer of 2011.  Before that, I was the spiritual leader of  Temple Beth Shalom, a Conservative synagogue, in beautiful Brigantine, NJ, a small island just North of Atlantic City. At that time I also taught adult education at Reconstructionist Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, PA.” “Prior to entering the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, RRC, in Wyncote, PA, I was the Cantorial soloist and Bar/Bat Mitzvah coordinator for Kehilla Community Synagogue in Berkeley.  It is stunning to think that was over 22 years ago; Kehilla just celebrated its 25th Anniversary!” “I studied voice at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA and after moving to the Bay Area, I co-founded a women’s a capella group, VOCOLOT, with my dear friend and musical collaborator, Cantor Linda Hirschhorn. This amazingly talented group of vocalists with whom I traveled and performed for nine years is still recording and performing world-wide. I was blessed to be part of the group for just short of a decade, and was fortunate to have recorded three albums with the ensemble.” “While at RRC, I was the rabbinical student-intern at the Kolot Center for Jewish Women and Gender Studies. I also served as a chaplain-in-training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. My student pulpit was at Reform Temple B’nai Israel in Laconia, NH, one of the prettiest places on the planet.” “I received my Master’s degree in Hebrew letters and was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2003. My Bachelors degree in Human Movement Studies is from San Francisco State University. With a minor in Holistic Health, I worked as a therapeutic bodyworker for a decade.  I was also certified as a Jewish meditation instructor at Chochmat Halev in Berkeley, CA, in 1998.”

Hanging with Rabbis, a Friday Night Dinner Turns into a Revelation

by Dan Pine, dan@jweekly.com j. Weekly, 2-17, 2011

I am reconstructing this story from memory. I have no choice. It was Shabbat, after all, so my pen was down. And this was not just any Shabbat. I’m talking Shabbat in Jerusalem with two dozen singing rabbis around the dinner table. Last month I joined the Northern California Rabbis Mission to Israel. Twenty-seven rabbis, to be exact. They represented all denominations — Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal. Their one-week itinerary included meetings with government officials, but their main objective was to show Israelis — and each other — that pluralism works. I accompanied the rabbis to the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, a West Bank yeshiva (for some Torah study), an electric car company and the Kotel — well, under the Kotel, for the “tunnel tour” of the Western Wall’s subterranean vestiges. I already knew many of the rabbis and had cordial relations with them, but I had never actually, you know, hung out with them. So let me tell you about rabbis. They are a peculiar subset of the Jewish people. As Allen Bennett, spiritual leader of Temple Israel in Alameda, noted, traveling with 27 rabbis can be like “herding Katz.” They are opinionated and witty. They have strong egos, yet are unfailingly kind. They press hard when it comes to issues they care about, yet possess a refined sense of courtesy. They are smart enough to know what they don’t know. And are they good at Torah study. In the past, I had always addressed them with the honorific “Rabbi,” to keep things formal. As our trip went on, and as they let down their guard, I shifted to first-name basis with them. Yet my respect for them grew immensely. It culminated on Shabbat. With the sun setting, Rabbi Moshe Levin (of San Francisco’s Congregation Ner Tamid) and I went to Shira Hadasha, an Orthodox shul in the German Colony. We arrived in time for Kabbalat Shabbat. I’ve attended few Orthodox services in my life, so Moshe served as my spirit guide, helping me follow along in the all-Hebrew siddur (no transliteration training wheels this time). It was an hour of joyful noise. With 200 voices ringing all around me, I thought about the numberless Jews exiled over centuries in the Diaspora, all of them longing to stand where I stood, praying what I prayed. Topping that was my dinner at Mem’s. We all joined up later at the home of Mem Bernstein. A macher’s macher, Mem has devoted her life to Jewish philanthropy (her Avi Chai Foundation built San Francisco’s Jewish Community High School of the Bay). She was also a gracious hostess, welcoming us to her home near the Montefiore Windmill. Over a sumptuous meal, the rabbis shared impromptu drashes on the Torah portion. Others recounted the week’s adventures. Mostly, they sang, while I swooned (keep in mind, my spirit was fueled in part by the ever-flowing wine and an icy shot of vodka). At one point, Reconstructionist Rabbi Rosalind Glazer and Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi led a wild niggun, sung molto vivace. For me, that’s when the line crossed from conventional time to Shabbat time. As the two rabbis led us in song, I felt the true spirit of the moment. I felt I had come face to face with the Shabbat Queen herself. It was for me the happiest, holiest moment of the trip. Of course, conventional time came roaring back soon enough, followed by a long journey home. Sadly, that amazing Shabbat slowly faded to white. But not permanently. Writing about it here, I find I have the power to fully conjure the memory of that night in Yerushalayim, and it warms me still. Someone once described war as “long periods of extreme boredom pierced by moments of extreme intensity.” I sometimes think regular life is like that. Daily routines may bring comfort and security, but we long for moments of extreme intensity. Too often people seek them in destructive ways. But I learned in Jerusalem that Jews long ago solved the problem. And it’s coming soon to a Friday night near you.

Rabbi Rosalind Glazerr
Rabbi Rosalind Glazer

New Rabbi Blends Several Traditions

by Dan Pine, staff writer J. Weekly, 9-15-2006

What happens when a Reconstructionist rabbi takes the pulpit of a synagogue affiliated with both the Reform and Conservative movements? Rabbi Rosalind Glazer is about to find out. Glazer is the newly appointed senior rabbi at San Francisco’s Congregation Beth Israel Judea. She arrived in town just in time for High Holy Day services, which she will lead alongside Beth Israel Judea’s new cantor, Ellen Schwab. Just because Glazer is new to the synagogue doesn’t mean she intends to rearrange the furniture or redo the drapes. “You learn early on not to change things too fast,” she says, “but seek to understand how the community operates.” Many years ago, Beth Israel Judea was formed when two pre-existing congregations — one Reform, the other Conservative — merged. Since then, the new institution forged its own unique culture. Even though ordained at the Reconstructionist seminary outside of Philadelphia, Glazer has had extensive professional contact with all streams of Judaism –  much of it here in the Bay Area –  and says her Reconstructionist training will help her adapt to Beth Israel Judea. “The Reconstructionist movement is very good at helping us understand how synagogues work as social systems,” she says. “Over time I may discover that the things that are sacred here are not so much about ‘the way it’s always been done,’ but the way they make people feel.” One thing that won’t change for the upcoming holidays is the Beth Israel Judea mahzor (High Holy Day prayer book) written by the late Rabbi Herbert Morris. “It’s not Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or Renewal,” says Glazer. “It’s Herbert Morris.” Glazer’s strong suit is her passion for klal Yisrael (Jewish community), and she hopes to bring to the congregation an enhanced sense of belonging. “Jews are Jews,” she says. “They want a place to be comfortable where they are, find meaning, rise above the mundane life of the everyday, to be where life is treasured, and to share what really matters from the depths of their hearts. As a rabbi, that’s what I’m interested in.” She also has a long-standing connection to the Bay Area. A gifted singer, Glazer was a founding member of Vocolot, the women’s chorale formed by Linda Hirschhorn (cantor at San Leandro’s Temple Beth Sholom). She also served for several years as Cantorial soloist and educator with Kehilla Community Synagogue in the East Bay. But she began life in New York. Glazer counts her childhood days in her grandparents’  Brooklyn apartment as formative to her Yiddishkeit. But there were others. Two years living in Israel as a child, active membership in the Zionist youth movement Young Judea and a passion for Jewish/Israeli culture all helped form Glazer’s Jewish identity. While studying for a master’s degree in physical therapy at San Francisco State, Glazer joined Vocolot. Shortly thereafter she began working with Kehilla, as well as serving as an interfaith hospital chaplain. These experiences triggered a desire to join the rabbinate. After five years of study, Glazer was ordained in 2003. Finding the right congregation took awhile, and now Glazer is ready to start this next chapter in her life. The synagogue’s previous rabbi Evan Goodman had been at Beth Israel Judea for seven years, and Glazer knows she has some big shoes to fill. “It’s a challenge,” she says. “Building communal consensus is the hardest thing. You spend a lot of time with a lot of people and make a lot of mistakes. In the process of meeting people and getting to know what they like you discover together and experiment together.” Fortunately, after so many years in the region, Glazer understands the unique qualities of the Bay Area Jewish community. “It’s very creative, very iconoclastic, very connected to the earth,” she says. “And it allows for some blending and borrowing from different spiritual traditions.” That’s probably what will unfold during her High Holy Day debut at Beth Israel Judea. And though the holidays are a significant moment on the Jewish calendar, Glazer looks forward to the many days, and years, to follow. “An institution is a structure,” she says, “but it holds the spirit, the emotions. You need the edifice, the administration and the leaders, but in essence it’s all about the heart, the mind, the soul.”

Kehilla’s Former Cantor Finds her Voice as a Rabbi

by ALEXANDRA J. WALL, Northern California Jewish Bulletin Staff © 2003

When Rosalind Glazer lived in the Bay Area, she was known as a cantor; she worked as a cantorial soloist and educator at Berkeley’s Kehilla Community Synagogue. But now, the 39-year-old’s career has taken a new turn, as the singer and former cantor has just added a new title in front of her name: rabbi. Glazer was recently ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Seminary in Philadelphia, and in fact, will be returning to the Bay Area this High Holy Days, to lead Jewish Renewal services at Mishkan Halev in Palo Alto. For information about these High Holy Days services, call (650) 321-2379. “My walk across the bimah from the cantorial side to the rabbinate were the most transformative 20 paces that I would take in my life — to walk from one side of the bimah to the other” said Glazer, speaking from her home in Philadelphia. “People heard my spoken voice for the first time. I was a singer, but I hadn’t found my voice as generating ideas and thoughts about what Judaism is and what it meant to me in my life, as I always sung other people’s words. It’s a very powerful thing.” Originally from Long Island, Glazer’s family lived in Israel for a few years when she was a child. After attending high school in Brookline, Mass., she moved to California to attend Humboldt State University, where she studied music. While at Humboldt, she met some people from Berkeley’s Aquarian Minyan and was impressed by what she read of Rabbi Burt Jacobson’s liturgy. When she moved to Berkeley, she sought out Jacobson, who by then had founded Kehilla. She moved to the East Bay after graduating college, living here from 1987 to 1998. And when she attended a bat mitzvah at Kehilla, she immediately knew the progressively minded synagogue would be a good fit. “I was really impressed by the values and political direction and the kind of families who belonged,” she said. “But I felt they needed some musical ruach [spirit]. They had a lot of really good thinking in place, exactly the kind of community I would want to be part of, but they needed some musical excitement.” Glazer got in touch with Linda Hirschhorn, who at that time, had not been invested yet as a cantor. Hirschhorn was singing at Kehilla’s High Holy Days and directing a Jewish women’s chorus, but she had some other ideas, too, and in Glazer, she found a willing collaborator. Hirschhorn had begun writing choral music with four-part harmonies, and in 1988, she asked Glazer if she would join the effort. Vocolot was born (it was Glazer who came up with the group’s name), and the group’s first recording came out that same year. Hirschhorn also asked Glazer if she could help out with High Holy Days that year, since she was pregnant. Glazer gladly accepted the offer. “What Linda and I were doing was developing this kind of interesting multidimensional relationship,” said Glazer. “I was a collaborator on the group, and a colleague at Kehilla, where she was mentoring me in cantorial skills.” Glazer had strong Hebrew skills from her time in Israel, and had learned leadership skills growing up in the Young Judaea youth movement.”[Hirschhorn] was studying privately for investiture and teaching me,” said Glazer. “And we were sharing this job thing and creating this group, it was a groovy little arrangement.” When Hirschhorn moved on to her current position as cantor at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Leandro, Glazer took on more responsibilities at Kehilla. She was in charge of the b’nai mitzvah program and eventually became an educator there as well. But she was living a double life (not unlike many cantors) and was studying massage and physical therapy at the same time. She was drawn to holistic health work as a result of a defect discovered on one of her vocal cords, which limited her in terms of what kinds of singing she could do. Along the way though, “I was realizing I was more drawn to the Jewish work I was doing than to the physical therapy,” she said. “I loved doing the massage and studying, but my heart was really in the Jewish community.” Over the years, Glazer felt her role in the community grow. “There were people who really saw me as their spiritual teacher and leader, as music is what connects a lot of people to Judaism,” she said. A diagnostic test, though, showed that unless she had surgery — which could or could not be successful — her singing range would be limited. And, she said, “In working as an educator, there was stuff I wanted to know in terms of Jewish history,” she said. “How to teach, how to run a community.” Glazer did have misgivings about leaving the Bay Area, and part of her still considers it home. She certainly would love it if her new career brings her back here to live. And she credits Kehilla with making her the rabbi she has recently become.” In academic society we learn and then take on a title. But in the real world, and in the Jewish community, a community says, ‘You are our leader.’ It was because Kehilla believed in me and made a place for me to lead that I became a Jewish leader. Through school I got the knowledge I needed, but it was really because of Kehilla that I became a Jewish leader.”

Renewal Congregations Offer New Perspective on Judaism

San Jose Mercury News 10-3-03

Mishkan HaLev is not your traditional Jewish congregation. Its founders, former E*Trade president Kathy Levinson and her partner Naomi Fine, are starting a Jewish Renewal community, a relatively young form of Judaism that blends theology with mysticism, feminism and politics, and uses spiritual tools not commonly associated with Judaism.

As Fine puts it, “There are a lot of ways we’re renewing the ancient Jewish wisdom to evolve the modern Jewish spirit.” The congregation is observing its first High Holy Days, which conclude with Yom Kippur on Oct. 6. During Rosh Hashanah services last week in Palo Alto, a woman began swaying. Another moved her hands slowly, as if performing tai chi. Then the pace picked up, and the drumming started.

Drumming? Yes.

And meditation and dancing and maracas.

A hallmark of Renewal is an experiential relationship with God. Here, God isn’t just found while listening to a rabbi or reciting Hebrew liturgies; the divine can also be discovered through senses, through ecstasies, through deep meditative breaths. Such practices have prompted people to nickname Renewal “New Age Judaism.”

There are at least 50 Renewal congregations, most of them in the United States, according to ALEPH, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Though it acts like one, Renewal doesn’t consider itself a denomination within Judaism like Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.  Rather, the modern Renewal movement, which came out of the 1960s and ’70s in response to the changing culture, is a way of bringing people back to the faith, said Rabbi Daniel Siegel, rabbinic director of ALEPH.

Consequently, some Jewish practices have been rethought to conform to contemporary sensibilities. For instance, traditional Judaism has specific roles for men and women but Renewal stresses egalitarianism. Renewal also encourages “eco-kosher” practices. So Jews should not only consider how the animal was killed, but how it lived — was it fed antibiotics? Did it roam free? How were the farm-workers treated? “It comes out in a new way, but it is rooted in the principles that have been the underlay of Judaism since the very beginning,” Siegel said.

Some members of Mishkan HaLev, which means “sanctuary for the heart,” credit Renewal for making their religion exciting and relevant to them. As Bob Niederman, who was snapping his fingers during a High Holy Days service put it, he wants a Jewish community with ruach — spirit, breath.

Like many Renewal followers, Bobbi Bornstein was raised Jewish but left the faith and sought spiritual fulfillment elsewhere. She practiced transcendental meditation and then learned about American Indian shamanism. It was while sitting in a sweat lodge listening to elders pray that her “heart opened up” and she decided to find her way back to her Jewish roots. She heard about Renewal when, while standing in line at a Jewish film festival, someone handed her a flier. “I didn’t know there were these incredible songs that are a part of our tradition,” the Mountain View woman said. “There are these wonderful beings that went out to the woods and connected with God.

“Renewal followers say dancing and meditation are part of ancient Jewish practices, many of which were lost when thousands of rabbis were killed during the Holocaust. But to many American Jews, these are foreign practices.

Nancy Katz, who was raised in a Reform Jewish family, attended Mishkan HaLev’s Rosh Hashanah services. She was a bit thrown off when told to turn and bless her neighbor, but she really liked the singing — it has always been her favorite part of services. Katz, who married a non-Jew, wants to pass the heritage on to her two children. But is she comfortable passing on traditions that are so different than what she’s known? “That’s what I’ve been wrestling with as I sit here,” she responded.

For some, the answer was clear. Kathy Levinson went “synagogue shopping” before attending services at Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley, the temple that inspired Mishkan. Her children loved the dancing, the music and the open nature of it. They were happy to make the 45-minute drive to the East Bay.

Last year, Levinson and Fine decided to try to bring Renewal to the Peninsula, to create that community closer to Levinson’s own geographic community. People told her “this community has needed a Renewal community so long. I’m so glad you had the chutzpah to bring it here. “It’s been hard work, but Levinson points out that her bio at E*Trade used to read “master of logistics.”

She and Fine loaned Mishkan money to get started. Earlier this year, it held five Shabbat services with Chochmat, and more than 100 people attended each one. After Yom Kippur services Sunday and Monday, there will be another gathering Oct. 17, at the end of Sukkot, a harvest festival.

After that, the group will hold monthly Shabbat services. It is still too small to meet weekly, hire a full-time rabbi or have its own temple, so it rents space in fellowship halls and chapels. A small number of volunteers have organized the services, donating their money and talents.

The talents did not include blowing a shofar, the ram’s horn traditionally used during Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Rosalind Glazer, who is leading services during High Holy Days, said in the past she’s allowed children to instead sing notes at the proper intervals. “It’s a little alternative,” she said, “but we’re already a little alternative.”

6 thoughts on “Bio & Press Clips”

    1. Shalom Vera –
      I am now serving as Director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Program in Israel. You are welcome to email me anytime. Would love to hear how you are doing!
      Be well –
      Rosalind

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      1. Hi Rosalind,

        Congratulations on your new position; it sounds like a good match!

        Daphna Noily, Walt and I will be visiting Israel December 1 8 from Ben Gurion University in the Negev to Haifa where our daughter Eve has settled. Where are you?

        Shalom,

        Vera

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    2. Shalom Vera. I hope you are well. The blog has been dormant for a while but it is being revived. I hope you have been well since our last contact and I look forward to staying in touch!

      Like

  1. I liked your latest blog! Is there a citation in the Talmud that would support the idea? Perhaps the story about Jacob at the well in the desert can be reinterpreted as a message about how precious are the earth’s resources. The message is that our value for life itself is embodied in our reverence for that which sustains life. In our liturgy our prayer for rain and dew could easily be interpreted as all of earths resources (including, of course, those that sustain us).

    Like

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