Rabbi Aviva Funke

Rabbi Aviva Funke

General reflections

It's amazing to me that people are still surprised when they learn women can be rabbis. Even though there are many issues for women, I personally believe the greater issue is disharmony between the denominations. 

How is it that women at the Kotel still can't celebrate Rosh Chodesh in peace? Why is it that Conservative/Reform/non-Orthodox rabbis still can't officiate weddings in Israel?

A blessing of women rabbis is that we are very connected to each other, have strong networks and are always looking out for one another. We face many of the same issues and are able to process them together. And personally, I love being in a position that breaks stigmas, and that's good for everyone. 

Challenges and blessings

I have had men leave shiva minyanim because I was leading it. As much as I love classical rabbinic literature (Mishnah and Talmud for example) I struggle to fully embrace it due to the sexism and disregard for women's rights and ability to learn. Obviously, the past was very different, however, I struggle with how to teach materials that would never even consider embracing me, my role in the community or others. 

A parent and a rabbi

As a mother of two young boys, and with a history of children's entertainment, I am always integrating Jewish life in fun and exciting ways in our home. If I'm not leading services, we have Shabbat family jam with musical prayer and family connection.

I often struggled to find the right type of family prayer programs, so I launched a monthly virtual Shabbat morning experience called Zoom Gali Gali. My oldest son suggests various melodies and activities, and my husband and I discuss meaningful prompts. This is a free program offered through the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County. Being a parent puts more pressure on me to make Judaism even more accessible for not only my kids, but for families in general. 

Rabbi Aviva Funke is the principal for Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix’s Hebrew High and a community rabbi.