Rabbi Debra Orenstein - Speaker and Scholar-In-Residence
Rabbi Debra Orenstein is sought-after as a speaker to synagogues, schools, and conventions. An
she has spoken at more than 200 synagogues, and at the national conventions of Hadassah, Women’s League, The Rabbinical Assembly, The Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jewish Educators Assembly, and Professional Leadership Project, among others. Rabbi Orenstein is available for individual lectures and scholar-in-residence weekends, as well as retreats and intensive seminars.
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Her most-frequently-requested topics are:
- Raising Spiritually Fulfilled Children
- Finding (More) Meaning in Jewish Ritual and Practice
- The Mentsch Generation
- The Entire Torah While Standing on One Foot
- Unfolding Adventures in Lifecycle, Spirituality, and Gender
- Ways in to Jewish Spirituality
- Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice (a.k.a. Kvetching and Praising: Two Essential Components of Jewish Spiritual "DNA")
- Personal Encounters with God
- "You Shall Be Holy": Defining and Living Kedushah
- Reading the Bible with New Eyes: Feminist Interpretation
- Spiritual Jumpstart: A Workshop
- Finding “Bashert” and Making It Work
- A Do-It-Yourself Midrash Seminar
- Your Lifecycle and the Torah’s Lifecycle
- The Covenant of Circumcision: Ground Zero for the Jewish Past and Future
- The Commandment to Be Happy
- Jewish Time Management: Befriending Time, Mastering Timing, and Using Time Well.
- If I Could Only Tell You One Thing, This Would Be It
Non-Jewish audiences often request the subjects “Morality and Justice in the Hebrew Bible” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Judaism, But Were Afraid to Ask.”
A favorite topic for college and graduate students is: “Jewish Sexual Ethics.”
Rabbi Orenstein also enjoys creating talks and divrei Torah based on the Torah portion, the Jewish calendar, and the interests and needs of the communities she visits. She involves her audiences with q & a, text study, experiential learning, group participation, and her unique, engaging speaking style.
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Some endorsements of Rabbi Orenstein as a speaker:
"Your presentation provided our audience with a fascinating scholarly interpretation on the art of praying and the meaning of prayer. You presented this challenging subject matter in a "hamishe," thought-provoking and entertaining manner. Your wisdom and wit captured everybody's attention and elicited many intriguing questions." - Maureen Wise, Director, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.
"Debra was amazing. She inspired the women who attended the [2009 Hadassah] weekend workshop with creative ideas, spirituality and study. The feedback was universally positive about Debra's presentation." - Sharon Krischer, Chairwoman of Hadassah of Southern California
“Thank you so much for such a lively, inspiring and helpful presentation. You have a great gift for taking a complex, profound topic and making it accessible without trivializing it. We need more teachers like you!” – Rabbi Steve Cohen, formerly of UCSB Hillel
“I am still hearing from our participants as to how wonderful your classes were – and how much they want us to bring you back!”—Lynn Simon, former Director of Special Programs, Lehrhaus Judaica, Berkeley, CA
“I did not want another day to pass without thanking you for all you gave to [Temple Israel of Hollywood] on both Friday night and Saturday after the minyan. Not only did I personally enjoy meeting and listening to you, but I was very moved by your approach to ritual, your insight into ways to bring holiness into secular events, and your capacity to articulate what people experience, and lift it into a Jewish context. Truly, you have a gift.” –Rabbi John L. Rosove, Temple Israel of Hollywood
“I am pleased that you were our featured speaker at the milestone event for our school. The theme, “Raising Spiritually Fulfilled Children,” is such an important one, and you address the topic with so much knowledge, wisdom, and humor! The group of parents who gathered together that night were very interested and appreciative of all you had to say. Thank you so much for your contribution to a wonderful night.” –Sheva Locke, Head of School, Valley Beth Shalom Day School, Encino, CA
“Although this comes long after your scholar-in-residence weekend with us in Toronto, I have thought of you often in the passing months. I wanted to thank you for all you shared with us both professionally and personally during your visit. The discussion and learning process that you began has continued on many levels. Our lecture series on “Recovering Lost Voices” with Rabbi Dolgin, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, and myself extrapolated and extended the topics of liturgy, theology, philosophy, and ritual practice. We could not have had these discussions without the foundations you laid for us. ….The impact of your teaching will be felt for many years to come.” –Rabbi Daveen H. Litwin, formerly of Temple Sinai Congregation, Toronto, Ontario
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Rabbi Debra's audio teachings are also available on