JSA Podcast 23: Rabbi Laura Geller and the “Village Movement” for Seniors

On the latest edition of the Jewish Sacred Aging Podcast, the guest is Rabbi Laura Geller, rabbi emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, CA. Since her retirement from the pulpit, Rabbi Geller has been leading the development of ChaiVillageLA, part of the rapidly growing Village Movement–a new social venture of neighbors helping neighbors–that enables people to continue living in their homes and their communities as they get older. ChaiVillageLA is a pioneering initiative by Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and Temple Isaiah, creating  the first synagogue-based village in the country. Together, these two innovative synagogues have envisioned  a unique communal and multi-generational system of mutual support, where village members provide each other the programs, services and resources which enable them to live healthier and more engaged lives.

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About the Guest

RabbiGeller 2 Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Emerita

Rabbi Laura Geller came to Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in 1994. She was the first Reform woman rabbi to be selected as the Senior Rabbi of a major metropolitan congregation. Rabbi Geller has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America for two years in a row, and receiving the California State Legislature’s Woman of the Year Award. In 2015 she was named one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis by Forward Magazine. Featured in the PBS Documentary called Jewish Americans, she is the author of many articles in journals and books, is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, and served on the Editorial Board of The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary, in which she has two published essays. Most recently, she has spearheaded a groundbreaking new project called Next Stage: Temple Emanuel’s Boomer and Beyond Initiative. 

Prior to being chosen as Senior Rabbi in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. Among her accomplishments at AJCongress was the creation of the AJCongress Feminist Center, which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. She came to AJCongress in 1990 after 14 years as the Director of Hillel at the University of Southern California.

Rabbi Geller is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. Rabbi Geller was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, and is the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi.  She is married to Richard A. Siegel, and she is the mother of Joshua and Elana Goldstein, grandmother of Avery Peter Goldstein, and the stepmother of Andy and Ruth Siegel.

On June 24th and 25th Rabbi Geller celebrated 22 years at Temple Emanuel and transitioned to Rabbi Emerita. Still part of the Emanuel family, she continues her work with the Next Stage Intiative, and the community building program ChaiVillageLA.

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