More than Thirty Years Ago, When People Heard that her Daughter was a Rabbinic Student, They would Say to My Mother, “She’s going to be a woman rabbi??”

My mother answered, “I don’t know what other land she could be.” I recall visiting a patient when I worked as a hospital chaplain, hearing “You’re a rabbi, but you don’t even have a beard.” I responded, “No, and I’m not circumcised, either.” In those days, as now, it helped to have a sense of humor and a great deal of patience to face the reactions of those who were amazed at my bizarre career choice.

Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, ordained in 1979, is the rabbi at B’nai Yehuda Beth Shalom in Homewood, IL.