Rabbi Shirley Idelson, PhD


Rabbi Shirley Idelson, PhD served as the Director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University from 2020-2023. A historian, rabbi and journalist, Idelson served as dean of the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), where from 2007-2016 she oversaw all aspects of academic and campus life, and created innovative programs in areas including social responsibility, entrepreneurship and contemplative practice.

Rabbi Idelson published We Shall Build Anew: Stephen S. Wise, the Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Reinvention of American Liberal Judaism in 2022, exploring how Rabbi Stephen S. Wise changed the trajectory of American Reform Judaism over the course of the twentieth century and well into the twenty-first. She also serves as Senior Advisor at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and Visiting Rabbi at Dartmouth College. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, written and reported for Newsday and Minnesota Public Radio, and is co-editor of Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation (Rutgers University Press).

A graduate of Dartmouth College with a B.A. in History, Idelson received her rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR, her Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center, and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She began her career as director of religious life at Vassar College, and also previously served as rabbi at Carleton and Macalester Colleges.