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		                                    Holy Sparks		                                </span>

Holy Sparks


The Goodman Family Museum is pleased to share our latest exhibit, Holy Sparks: Celebrating Fifty Years of Women in the Rabbinate.

Holy Sparks illuminates the creativity, commitment, and vision of select women who were “firsts” in their time. Their challenges and contributions, struggles and successes, represent the achievements of all the women rabbinical graduates of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in North America and Israel to date – and the nearly 1,500 women rabbis of all movements who have transformed Jewish tradition, worship, spirituality, scholarship, education, and pastoral care.

Evoking their stories are the works of leading contemporary Jewish women artists, who immersed themselves in their respective rabbi’s recorded interviews, produced by The Braid‘s Story Archive of Women Rabbis and preserved at the Jewish Women’s Archive. The artists’ insights, empathy, and broad array of aesthetic approaches capture the essence of these trailblazers’ identities and consecrated paths.

Click here to see the catalog


Celebrating our Female Rabbis

In honor of this exhibit, we collaborated with paper-cut artist, Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, to commission four original pieces that celebrate Temple Israel's women rabbis, who never cease to inspire!

Rabbi Marla Hornsten

Rabbi Hornsten never planned on becoming a rabbi. “When I was a teenager, my dad would say things, like ‘you should become a rabbi,’ and I would literally tell him that was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard,” Hornsten said.

As an adult, while working on her master’s degree in European history, she enrolled in a program at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. “I loved everything about it. I studied Jewish texts for the first time. I was living an intensive Jewish life, pursuing Judaism through art and music and drama and dance, and it was incredible,” Rabbi Hornsten said. “I met amazing people, and the Jewish text piece was really significant to me. After that summer, I went back to school, and I just felt like I was looking at the world through a Jewish lens. I felt like everything had a Jewish perspective to it. And I hadn’t seen that before.”

From there, she started thinking more about the conversations she would have with her dad about potentially being a rabbi. “I kept saying, ‘No, no, no,’ but it kept coming up and, finally, a guy I was working with said to me, ‘Marla, maybe you should just do it already,’ and that’s when I decided I would,” she said.

Hornsten came to Temple Israel in July of 2000. She was the first female rabbi at Temple Israel.

Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny

Rabbi Kaluzny joined Temple Israel clergy in 2004.

“Judaism was always a positive, fun, loving part of my life, I enjoyed learning Jewish text and Hebrew, and my own rabbis looked like they truly enjoyed what they were doing. I always knew I wanted to be in a helping profession,” she said. “I considered nursing or teaching. I love being in a medical environment and being around different kinds of people. Becoming a rabbi allows me to do all of those things: teach, preach, counsel, travel. I have the opportunity to experience everything I love in a Jewish context.”

When Kaluzny was 19, her aunt passed away while in hospice in Chicago. The care her aunt received left an impact on her. Even before ordination, she sought training in chaplaincy and hospice work, and that led to her join the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network in the summer of 2001.

“I was taken by the nurses, the rabbi that came and said a prayer for her, and how much respect each and every person showed my aunt, even when she wasn’t conscious. They nurses even took care of us, knowing how much we loved her and were devastated by her death,” Kaluzny said. “I made a promise to myself then that I if I succeeded in becoming a rabbi, I would make chaplaincy and hospice work a cornerstone of my rabbinate.”

Rabbi Jen Lader

Rabbi Lader joined Temple Israel in 2012. She also never planned on being a rabbi. “I was going to be a doctor,”  Lader said. “Since I was little, I was focused on science. My dad’s a scientist, and I went to a science academy for middle school and a specialized magnet school for high school … I’ve been obsessed with the natural world and magic and our bodies and nature, and I was very on track for that.”

Lader grew up in a smaller Jewish community in Austin, Texas. As a teenager, she was introduced to BBYO. “Youth group was totally mind-blowing for me. It was incredible to break out of my very small community and see what the Jewish world had to offer, and I just had no idea,” Lader said. Even with that, Lader said she was still on the science track through college, majoring in pre-med at the University of Maryland. But she also started taking Jewish studies as part of her college curriculum. She said she had all of her “real classes” in science, but all her electives were in Jewish studies.

At this time, a congregation nearby had an opening for a youth director and she applied. “I really connected with working with Jewish teens and between my Jewish studies classes, those were the parts I was really looking forward to in my life,” she said. “Some brilliant adviser said to me, you don’t have to do that [stick with science]. You can do something you enjoy, and that was a really big deal. “That’s when I wanted to become a rabbi,” she added. “And the thing I love about both science and the rabbinate is that I get to walk through the world with a sense of awe … it’s the best decision I ever made.”

Rabbi Arianna Gordon

You could say Rabbi Gordon’s path to the rabbinate officially started earlier in life. “I had the best time at my bat mitzvah. I had a younger cousin who kept asking if I was nervous on the day of, and I would tell him how much fun I was having,” Gordon said. “That was the first time it occurred to me that this could be interesting.”

Gordon said she began to talk about being a rabbi at 13. Over the next decade, she learned more about what that could mean. She chose Brandeis University for its Judaic studies and taught religious school throughout college as well.

One summer during college, she purposely worked a separate nine-to-five job, just to make sure she had chosen the right path as a teenager and it was clear. She applied to rabbinical school.

Gordon focused on education in her rabbinate, and she joined Temple Israel in 2011 as the temple’s director of education.

Click the link below to watch the Zoom interview with Temple Israel's four women rabbis and 'Nice Jewish Artist,' Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik about the Goodman Family Museum's commissioned portraits.

Fri, June 21 2024 15 Sivan 5784