In 2012, I was incredibly humbled to be a part of HUC-JIR's ordination class, which marked the 40th anniversary of women in the rabbinate. I was humbled to be among eight female-identified rabbis being ordained in Los Angeles, including one of my own role models, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler, who is undoubtedly one of most influential Jewish feminist thinkers of our time!
Blessings and challenges
Becoming a rabbi wasn't really about challenging the status quo or fighting for gender equality. But that is because I was really lucky to have female-identified rabbinic role models growing up. What I've realized during my time at ASU Hillel is that not all women, even today, have that. So one of the best parts of being on campus is that I am humbled to be a role model to all the young Jewish men, women and non-binary students who are encountering a form of Judaism that encourages them to embrace their modern identities alongside our ancient traditions and rituals.
I often forget that something as simple as leading Kabbalat Shabbat services can be seen as a feminist statement. Recently, a student reminded me that she loves coming to Hillel because she can lead services and no one will question her right to do so. I love working at Hillel because the pluralism we foster reminds me that one small prayer can actually be a radical act of reclaiming female-identified voices in the Jewish public square.
Rabbi Suzy Stone is the campus rabbi for Hillel at Arizona State University.