Rabbi Sharon Brous

Ronit Avni

Sharon Brous had no interest in becoming a rabbi until a bewildering weekend in the Old City of Jerusalem where she accidentally stumbled upon the answers to all of life’s questions.  Three hours later, she realized that those answers were unconvincing but she wanted to devote her life to grappling with the questions.  Barely knowing the words to Kiddush, she enrolled in Rabbinical School and dove full force into serious Jewish learning and practice.  Years later, as a rabbi, she found herself drawn not only to those already invested in Jewish life, but also to the deeply disaffected.  The people who wouldn’t even walk in the door.  She began dreaming up ways to make Jewish learning, ritual and community compelling and meaningful even for those alienated by conventional religion.  In 2004 Brous, Melissa Balaban and a handful of young entrepreneurial Jews set out to build IKAR, a laboratory for bold, imaginative Jewish practice – which quickly became one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the country and a model for inspiring Jews from the most marginalized to the most engaged.

Brous was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree.  After ordination, she served as a Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in NYC.

In 2013, Brous was recognized as the most influential Rabbi in the United States by Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and as one of the Forward’s 50 most influential American Jews.  In 2013 she blessed the President and Vice President at the Inaugural National Prayer Service.  She sits on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, Wexner Heritage and REBOOT.  She serves on the board of Teruah-The Rabbinic Call to Human Rights, is a rabbinic advisor to American Jewish World Service and Bend the Arc.  She received the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary, was a JWI Woman to Watch and was the inaugural recipient of the Inspired Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David, and their three children.


Monday Main Stage Faith and Feminism: The Power of Jewish Women