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Rabbi Marla Hornsten came to Temple Israel in July of 2000 after her rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion, having attended both the Los Angeles and New York campuses. Her first duty at Temple Israel was to hop a plane to Jerusalem just 36 hours after her arrival in Michigan with 80 Temple teens!

Watch Rabbi Hornsten's Video Mosaic from her 2018 Rosh Hashana Sermon

Over the years that Rabbi Hornsten has been at Temple, she has led a variety of early childhood, youth and young adult programs. In the religious school, she currently oversees the 7th grade Monday Night School program and coordinates the graduating senior class as well. She is well known for her “cooking elective” which weaves Jewish law and tradition with rugelach and challah. “Rabbi Marla” as she is affectionately known, also leads Bunk 45, a camp style youth group for 4th and 5th graders. 

Rabbi Marla advocates for women and women’s equality and roots for women every chance she gets! She is proud to have created a variety of women’s programming including a monthly Rosh Chodesh women’s spirituality group, mikvah tours and immersion experiences. She has written many healing services for both men and women using the mikvah and considers herself the unofficial “mikvah lady” at Temple Israel. 

She is also committed to preventing domestic abuse in families and to guiding couples in establishing healthy relationships. To that end, she served as a co-chair for the Clergy Task to End Domestic Violence for Jewish Women International, based out of Washington DC, and on both JCADA (Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse) and the OCCCADV (Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic Violence) locally.

Currently, Rabbi Marla is the Co-Chair of the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity, serves on the Board of Directors for Jewish Family Service, and is on the convention committee for the CCAR—the Central Conference of American Rabbis.  She is the past President of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, and also  previously served on the board of the Women’s Rabbinic Network. 

In her life previous to Temple Israel, Rabbi Hornsten earned a B.A. in European Studies from Scripps College, an M.A. in Modern European History from the Claremont Graduate University; and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the HUC-JIR. Her rabbinic thesis was titled, Claiming Hagar: A Search for Identity in Rabbinic Midrash, which combined her love of text with her commitment to women and women’s identity.

Rabbi Hornsten is a native of Mercer Island, Washington, and makes frequent trips to the Pacific Northwest to visit her family. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, keeping fit, being a soccer mom, cooking, knitting and crocheting which she learned from her grandmother, reading, playing violin, and watching Star Trek reruns among many other things.

She met her husband, Dr. Sheldon Stern, at Temple Israel (a match made by her fellow clergy) & they have 4 amazing children:  Erica, Jessica, Benji & Danny.

Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784