Alysa Stanton will be ordained in June by Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati as the first female African-American Rabbi. Yay! On being the first? She says: “If I were the 50,000th, I’d still be doing what I do, trying to live my life with kavanah and kedusha…Me being first was just the luck of the draw.”

Not only all that – but she’s found her first pulpit – Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, North Carolina. Bayt Shalom is a predominately white congregation that is affiliated with both United Synagogue and the Union for Reform Judaism.

Soon to be Rabbi Emeritus of Bayt Shalom wrote to the congregation in his last newsletter article – “I know that you will welcome Rabbi Stanton with open arms, and I hope that she will be a dynamic force in the growth and spiritual development of the CBS community for many years to come.” In the same vein, Bayt Shalom’s President noted “a level of excitement in [the] congregation that is energizing” surrounding the start of Rabbi Stanton’s time in North Carolina.

I think that her success stands not only as an example for all, but also as proof that in some ways, we’re really moving foward.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Stanton and her new congregation!

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  • Congratulations to Rabbi Stanton from peeps in J-ville Florida!

  • the information included is taken from the article linked in the first paragraph and from the newsletter from the synagogue linked in the second paragraph

  • Well no Eli. I don’t hide the fact that I do not believe in reform judaism. I won’t worship at reform temples and I do not believe in the authority of reform rabbis. Yet while we do not have a commonality of faith we do have a commonality of fate – your god is my god, and your people are my people – so to speak. Reform Jews and I may not share the same religious beliefs but we still all have some pretty strong commonalities. I’d rather focus on that.

    As for Alysa Stanton i am kind of embarrassed for her. Why should the fact that she’s black be of any relevance? Judaism isn’t a race and she’s far from the first black rabbi.

  • I can’t say that I really understand the ordination of a reform rabbi. among the orthodox, the rabbi is expected to know all of the torah and the intricate laws that arise from the torah. to become ordained as an orthodox rabbi you have to commit to learn the torah and the laws of the torah. The reform, however, do not accept the divinity of the torah so why should anyone bother studying an old book of fables and ridiculous tales? does a reform rabbi have to know the torah? The reform have no jewish laws. what does the rabbi need to study or know to become ordained?

  • Wow. Way to be inclusive, folks. This is why I stopped going to temple years ago. I need not worry about anti-semitism, as I can get plenty of ridicule and judgment directly from other Jews. This is why our faith is dying. Way to contribute.

    Focusing on the the litigious nonsense of what does and does not constitute are “real” Jew, rather than concentrating on G-d is a grave mistake.

  • I love Hashem, and I love all my fellow Jews even when I disagree with them or when they disagree with me. Alice, you are welcome here always and try not to take offense. If you disagree with me or anyone else on the site say what you like, we’ll never censor you (unless you are in fact a Nazi, God forbid!). And find a temple you like! That’s better than no temple at all!

  • …and make liberal use of exclamation points. Sheesh. Where did I learn to write?

  • ck, while I commend you for acknowledging that Judaism isn’t a race, I can tell you, as a Jew of color myself, that sadly, for too many in the Jewish community, the fact that Rabbi Stanton is black would most definitely be of relevance–and not in good way, either. And I know a lot of other Jews of color (and white Jewish allies) who could tell you the same thing.

    And Eli? Though I do have my ideas, the last thing I want to do is misunderstand you, so could you please tell us what the “this” is that “makes Jewlicious 0% kosher”?

    And yes, Kol Hakavod to Rabbi Stanton!

  • I apologize for my aggression .. I just get so frustrated with negativity.

    I appreciate that. I guess I just worry about a time when there will be temple so exclusive that no one can get in. That troubles me. It troubles me that there are those amongst the Frum community that don’t consider me a real Jew. I’d like to think that there is room for all of us and that G-d loves all of us. There is room for Rabbi Stanton. We should welcome her to the community!! We should not quibble with one another. We should unite, not divide!!!

    I hope I used enough exclamation points!! Hehe 🙂

  • Allow me to clarify what I mean when I say I might not be considered a “real” Jew. For one, my father is Catholic (I know, I know) and I considered myself on the relaxed side of Conservative. But, I was raised a Jew, I’m Bat Mitzvah’d and I live my life according to the law

  • Heh, there’s no need for a bar / bat mitzvah ceremony – it just marks the point when you reach religious legal age. Just a sidenote. 🙂

  • I felt it was a very important time between myself and joining the community of my temple at the time. It was a joyous day. But thanks for diminishing the importance.

  • Not diminishing anything as it’s the personal importance that matters to you. It’s not religiously mandated, and that is something that will separate you from Orthodox Jews, who have a different take on this. I just meant to mention that Judaism, unlike Christianity, does not have a original rite of initiation at adolescent age even though the calling of a boy / girl to the Torah is often considered such. They already are members of the community, and unlike in Christianity, not having a bar / bat mitzvah celebration will not to some degree exclude you from the community.

  • From aggressive to passive aggressive. Nifty switch, Alice!

    Muffti doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in this religion stuff but he does like to see these sorts of barriers come down, especially between two communities that haven’t always historically gotten along very well. So, yeshar-koach Alysa,

  • Alice: Being Jewish isn’t just what a person calls himself.

    Being Jewish is multi-faceted. There is Jewish culture, Jewish history, Jewish religion, Jewish identity, Jewish lineage, etc. All of those make up different parts of being jewish.

    Ultimately, to be a Jew (religion) means to accept the three covenants between man and god. The first god made with Noach and it is the promise to be a good human: don’t steal, don’t kill, etc. The second was between god and abraham to love and live in Israel and the third between god and moses to keep the torah.

    If you do not accept these three then you are a great a fine person and a jew (identity) or jew (history) but not a jew (religion) no matter how many bagels you eat. On the other hand, if you keep them then you are a Jew (religion) no matter what the circumstances of your birth.

    Bottom line: you can feel jewish, call yourself jewish, eat cold sweet smelly ashkenazi food, feel guilty all the time, parade on fifth avenue for israel and cry on holocaust memorial day and these things make you jewish in some ways or another but they do not make you a person of the jewish religion. When orthodox jews talk about being jewish they talk about being a part of the jewish religion. when you talk about being jewish you talk about thinking woody allen is funny. we’re not talking about the same thing.

  • wow. so i really wasn’t expecting this response so long after posting it. i wanted to recognize her as a Jew-by-choice who not only found comfort in our faith and culture, but made the choice to continue on her Jewish path. I am as frustrated as Alice when I see those that refer to the non-orthodox as an “other”, not Jewish, not believing. It’s that kind of seperatist attitude that makes a constructive dialogue so difficult. But however difficult, it is important – so that we can recognize our differences and celebrate all that we share in common.

  • I am interested to learn more about Rabbi Stanton. I have relatives from Ohio and would like to research to see if we are related. I am so proud and exicted. If anyone knows how I can make contact, even by email only to Rabbi Stanton please let me know.

  • Marqueta: Call (252) 830-1138 and ask the Synagogue for her email address. Or talk to her directly. Good luck!

  • I am a Jew from a Muslim country and I can tell you that every time I walk into a synagogue, my Jewishness is questioned. Every. Single. Time. I am sick and tired of it. To the Ashkenazim: Judaism didn’t start in the shtettles of Poland. Don’t forget that not everyone has the shtettle mentality, eats bagels, and finds Woody Allen to be funny. That is not my Judaism and never will be. I make no apologies for it.

    As for Rabbi Stanton’s ordination, I think it’s wonderful. I hope she is being well-received in her community. G-d knows I have not been.

    • Well actually… this is an old post. Her congregation announced in January that her contract would not be renewed and that she will leave this coming July.

      “We felt Rabbi Stanton has brought a lot of gifts to the congregation, but we felt she wasn’t a good fit for the direction we’re going,” board president Samantha Pilot told the Forward.


      But it’s not a Sephardic/Ashkenazic thing. And Jade, if you come across an unfriendly community, find another one – or better yet, stick it out and help change people’s ignorant pre-conceived notions of what it means to be a Jew!

  • You really make it appear really easy together with your presentation however I in finding this matter to be actually something that I think I might never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very extensive for me. I’m taking a look forward to your next post, I will attempt to get the hang of it!