Rabbi Toba Spitzer has served Congregation Dorshei Tzedek since she was ordained in 1997 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC).
Rabbi Spitzer is a popular teacher of courses on Judaism and economic justice, Reconstructionist Judaism, new approaches to thinking about God, and the practice of integrating Jewish spiritual and ethical teachings into daily life. She served as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association from 2007-2009, and was the first LGBTQ rabbi to head a national rabbinic organization. Rabbi Spitzer has received the honor of being included in Newsweek’s Top 50 Rabbis in America 2008 list, the 2008 Forward 50 list, as well as the 2010 Forward list of 50 Female Rabbis Who Are Making A Difference. She is a past President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Spitzer has been involved for many years in American Jewish efforts to help foster a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as work in the U.S. for economic and social justice. She serves on the Board of Truah: The Rabbnic Call for Human Rights, and was a founding member of the Advisory Board of J Street. Rabbi Spitzer has a special interest in Jewish approaches to economic justice and the mindful use of money in daily life. Rabbi Spitzer’s writings on process theology, Judaism and social justice, and explorations of Biblical texts have been published in The Reconstructionist Journal and in the anthology Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible. While a student at RRC, she organized a rabbinic delegation to Haiti to serve as human rights witnesses during the military junta. The trip and resulting Haitian-Jewish seder are described in her article “Of Haiti and Horseradish”, in The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism, edited by Marla Brettschneider.
Rabbi Spitzer is a devoted and relatively patient Red Sox fan and also has a life goal of bowling in all 50 states. She has 32 down so far!
December 24th, 2019 | Season 1 | 42 mins 28 secs
Slavery has been described as America’s original sin. Abolished with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, slavery still casts a shadow over American life. Today, many Americans are seeking to better understand, and respond to, this tortured history. Can Judaism offer some guidelines for how to do that? Do Jews have to atone for the sin of slavery, even though mass Jewish migration to the United States didn’t happen until decades after the Civil War? Rabbi Toba Spitzer answers yes to both questions. In this episode, the religious leader of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, a Reconstructionist congregation outside Boston, discusses ideas she first explored in a Yom Kippur sermon. Spitzer says that the ancient priests — who may have been among the Hebrew Bible’s editors —had ideas about communal sin that may offer a path toward societal acknowledgement and atonement for the sin of slavery. Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D., who directs the Evolve project, sits in for this interview.