It is with great pleasure that the ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP) announces the appointment of Rabbi Marcia Prager as Dean Emerita, in special recognition of her years of distinguished service. The appointment became effective as of January 1, 2022.
Rabbi Prager served for 10 years as the Dean of the Reb Zalman Smicha Project, four years as the Dean of the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, and 17 years as the founding Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Program and Director of Rabbinic Studies. She has represented AOP in the formation of OHALAH, has served on the ALEPH Board, and has taught faithfully and lovingly in the AOP Liturgy Department.
ALEPH’s founder, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, enthusiastically supported Reb Marcia in growing his legacy by establishing the AOP 20 years ago this year. At the culmination of an organizing meeting held in NYC in the Spring of 2002, the rabbis who met—Rabbis Marcia Prager, Daniel Siegel, Shaya Isenberg, Sami Barth, Shohama Wiener, Miles Krassen, Moshe Waldoks, Elliot Ginsburg, Victor Gross, and Steven Silvern—launched the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, soon expanding with the incusion of the Cantorial, Rabbinic Pastor and Hashpa’ah Programs to become the AOP. With the ordination of five rabbis, one hazzan and two rabbinic pastors in January 2022, the total alumni of Reb Zalman, the B’nai/P’nai Or Religious Fellowship, The Smicha Project and AOP is currently 197 Rabbis, 36 Rabbinic Pastors, 30 Hazzanim and 5 cohorts of Mashpi’im.
Reb Marcia also serves as rabbi of the P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Congregation of Philadelphia, the innovative congregation founded by Reb Zalman in 1973, and was the founding rabbi of a sister congregation, P’nai Or of Princeton, New Jersey, which she served for 13 years.
Reb Marcia’s work embraces a wide range of students and venues, including classes in Jewish spirituality in local programs, at Elat Chayyim and then through Isabella Freedman/Hazon Jewish Retreat Center, and in an array of national and international events and programs.
Along with Rabbi Shawn Zevit she co-directs The Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI), a two-year training program for rabbis, cantors, rabbinic pastors, and lay congregational leaders in the art of public prayer. Now entering its 22nd year, this program has trained more than 500 Jewish prayer leaders from across the Jewish denominational spectrum.
Rabbi Prager received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Pratt Institute, her Rabbinic Ordination and Master of Hebrew Letters Degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and smicha from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity honoris causa in 2014 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Doctor of Divinity honoris causa in 2021 from the Vancouver School of Theology. In 2010, she was selected by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the Top Fifty American Female Rabbis.
She is the author of The Path of Blessing, a contemporary ‘hasidic’ text exploring the Jewish practice of blessing, and has created the P’nai Or Siddurim for Shabbat and other innovative compilations of prayer and liturgy.
“For so many years, Reb Marcia has illuminated the lights of Renewal Judaism for everyone to see, hear, and feel,” says SooJi Min-Maranda, ALEPH’s Executive Director. “We are blessed that she continues to dedicate her life to sharing her wisdom and demonstrating so profoundly that Jewish spiritual practice is a powerful path to personal growth and healing. Moreover, although Reb Marcia may be retiring from her position as the Dean of the AOP and Director of Rabbinic Studies, she’s not going very far.”
Indeed, Reb Marcia has graciously agreed to serve as an Advisor to the incoming AOP Dean and also to ALEPH’s Executive Director and Board, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership and bringing her experience to continue to ensure that Reb Zalman’s legacy and ALEPH will thrive.
Please join us inextending our deepest appreciation to Rabbi Prager for her dedication and service to the ALEPH Ordination Program, and to Klal Yisrael.