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Joy Levitt

Rabbi Joy Levitt earned high honors as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), then continued to shape the movement after her term’s end, through her inclusive approach to both prayer and politics. Levitt graduated from Barnard College in 1975 and was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1981. She served as the RRA’s first female president from 1987–1989, and managed a balancing act as rabbi for both B’nai Keshet in Montclair, New Jersey and the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Long Island for almost 20 years. In 1999 she co-edited the Reconstructionist haggadah, A Night of Questions, which included new rituals and readings to emphasize women’s roles in the exodus from Egypt and Passover’s ongoing mandate to address injustice in the world. Since 1998 Levitt has also served as executive director of the JCC in Manhattan, where she opened a new center in Harlem, helped the Jewish community weather the shock of 9/11, and offered public support for the building of an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center. She has been honored as one of the Forward 50 in 2011 and was hailed by Newsweek as one of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis of 2010 and 2011.

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Photo of Rabbi Joy Levitt by Diana Berrent, courtesy of Rabbi Levitt.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Joy Levitt." (Viewed on December 5, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/rabbis/narrators/levitt-joy>.

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