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Tamar Frankiel Named President of AJRCA at UCLA

She is the first Orthodox woman in the U.S. to lead a rabbinical school.

By Sue Tomchin
Spring 2013

A mother of five and grandmother of five has become the first Orthodox woman in the United States to lead a rabbinical school. In January, scholar, teacher and author Tamar Frankiel, 66, became president of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA), a transdenominational rabbinical, cantorial and chaplaincy school at the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA.

“I am delighted to become the new leader of this unique, innovative institution,” says Frankiel. “The fact that our board and community chose an Orthodox woman as president is testimony to AJRCA’s deep commitment to pluralism. Indeed, differences in personal practice and religious philosophy can actually strengthen our work together.”

Frankiel, who received her Ph.D. in history of religions from the University of Chicago, previously served as AJRCA’s provost and professor of comparative religion. She is the author of four books on Jewish mysticism and spiritual practice, including The Gift of Kabbalah, and one on Jewish women’s issues, The Voice of Sarah: Feminine Spirituality and Traditional Judaism. She has also written two books and numerous scholarly articles on religion in America, as well as a widely used textbook on Christianity. She has taught at Stanford, Princeton, UC Berkeley and other universities.

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