First black female rabbi to take N.C. pulpit

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) – The first African-American female rabbi will take up a new pulpit in North Carolina in August.

Alysa Stanton, who will be ordained June 6 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, has been hired as the spiritual leader of Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville. Bayt Shalom is a small Conservative congregation that two years ago also affiliated with the Reform movement.

Stanton, a convert and mother to an adopted 14-year-old daughter, is a trained psychotherapist who specializes in trauma and grief.

She will be the first African-American rabbi to lead a majority white congregation, despite the fact that about 20 percent of the American Jewish community is ethnically and racially diverse, according to the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

Stanton’s ordination will provide young black Jewish Americans “with an important role model,” says Diane Tobin, associate director of the institute. “Hopefully over time they will see themselves reflected in the community.”

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