Learn & Play
Lesson Plan

Sally Priesand: The First American Female Rabbi

Today in America, there are hundreds of female rabbis in the Reform movement. But, just over fifty years ago, there were none! The first woman - Sally Preisand - was ordained at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in 1972. Learn about this pioneer female leader who became an inspiration for generations to come. This editorial will highlight for you how women’s roles in Judaism has changed over the years.

In 1972, one woman - Sally Priesand - made American and Jewish history. Find out who she was and what she did to change history!

Group Activity

Each small group will prepare a digital timeline of the development of women's ordination, including women who were “firsts” in the various denominations.

Discussion Questions

  • What parts of this article are surprising to you? 
  • What challenges do you imagine Rabbi Priesand faced? 
  • What are your opinions about rabbinic ordination for women? 
  • What other women pioneers do you know in other fields? 
  • In what ways has the Jewish community’s attitude towards women changed?
  • Are attitudes toward women rabbis different in Israel than in the Diaspora?

Creative Activity

​Interview a female Rabbi about their experience in training to become and practicing as a Rabbi.

Edit this article as if it were being written today. 

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Each small group will prepare a digital timeline of the development of women's ordination, including women who were “firsts” in the various denominations.

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