Mazel Tov Soon-to-be Rabbi Alysa Stanton!

by JewishFactFinder under JFacts,Judaism,Rabbi

On June 6, 2009, when Alysa Stanton, 45, is officially ordained, she’ll create history as the first African American woman to become a rabbi and the first African American rabbi to lead a majority white congregation. In August, Stanton is to begin her new job at Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, NC, a synagogue associated with both the Conservative and Reform movements. Stanton’s ordainment comes at a time when, according to the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, approximately 20% of American Jews are “racially and ethnically diverse by birth…by conversion or adoption.” And, “Approximately 20,000 – 30,000 marriages between Jews and African Americans grew out of the civil rights movement.”

Stanton was born in Cleveland, Ohio and was raised as a Pentecostal Christian, but believes that even at an early age she was, “a seeker.” She converted to Judaism during college in 1987, and after attending Lancaster University in England and receiving a Master of Education degree from Colorado State University in 1992, she then studied Torah at the HUC-JIR campuses in Jerusalem and in Cincinnati, Ohio. When asked if she was born Jewish, Stanton usually replies, “Yes. But not to a Jewish womb.”