photo of Barbara Penzner

Barbara Penzner '78

Rabbi Barbara Penzner ’78 has served as president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association since October 1996. In that role, she not only heads the organization, but represents the rabbis within the broader Reconstructionist movement, and nationally among other Jewish organizations. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association is the professional association of over 200 rabbis in North America and Israel. They meet to nurture their professional and spiritual interests as rabbis. The association places rabbis in congregational positions, chaplaincy, college campuses and educational leadership positions. As president, Barbara’s goal is “to make Reconstructionist Judaism — now representing about 3% of American Jewry — more visible on the national Jewish scene, and to join the coalition of liberal Jews in working toward religious pluralism in Israel.”

Barbara received the degree of rabbi and Master of Hebrew Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia in 1987. She also earned a master’s degree in religion at Temple University. Her Bryn Mawr degree is in Russian studies. She is married to Brian Rosman and is the mother of two children, Aviva, 9, and Yonah, 4.

Barbara works part time for Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, a small urban congregation of about 130 households within Boston. Along with leading services and teaching adults and children, “I perform pastoral services for the aging population of the temple, and am helping to revitalize it by attracting young families,” she explains. In addition, she’s a consultant “on a very exciting and cutting-edge adult Jewish learning program in the Boston area called Me’ah.” Me’ah means 100 and the class is 100 hours of Jewish learning over 2 years. It’s an intense learning experience for adults of different levels of Jewish knowledge, often based in their home congregation. Barbara works with the rabbis of the congregations to help them integrate these newly educated members of their congregations. “We are in the business of “transformation” — transforming Jewish lives to become more literate in Jewish thought and Jewish communities, to make them more vibrant and caring places!”

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