Rabbi Rebecca L. Dubowe, is known most prominently as the first female, deaf rabbi in the world, however she would tell you this label means nothing compared to her most preferred title—best revealed in her warm and gentle, yet vibrant presence—that of, “Mom”. Dubowe currently presides as interim rabbi at Moses Montefiore Temple, the only synagogue in Bloomington-Normal. After serving a large congregation in Los Angeles, California for eighteen years, she found herself in the middle of central Illinois tasked with leading a significantly smaller congregation through a process of change and transformation. Through my research I sought to understand what kind of leader Dubowe is, and what her various identities— rabbi, deaf, female, mother— mean to her; how they influence each other, interconnect, and ultimately define who she is. From my observation, research, and most importantly my one-on-one interactions with Rabbi Dubowe, I learned that she ultimately aspires to lead a life of acceptance and compassion for all humanity. She hopes that people may learn from her example and lead lives of compassion for other people as well as themselves, so that they may be able to "truly believe in themselves".


Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology