Rabbi Emerita Deborah J. Brin

Rabbi Deborah J. Brin lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she was  the spiritual leader of Congregation Nahalat Shalom for ten years, from 2006-2016.  Rabbi Brin has had a rich and varied career within the rabbinate, she has served as a geriatric chaplain, hospice chaplain, college chaplain and pulpit rabbi. Her career has taken her to Philadelphia, Toronto, Grinnell, Iowa and Albuquerque. Wherever she has gone, she has helped to create vibrant Jewish life by connecting people to each other and our shared traditions, teaching, counseling, creating new rituals for celebration and healing, empowering others to lead, and encouraging laughter and fun. She is known for finding ways to bridge differences, increase inclusiveness and diversity and mitigate turf issues. While in Toronto she helped establish a community mikveh, and in Albuquerque she started a Hevra Kaddisha Society and is the founding president of the Rabbinical and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque [RACA].

Rabbi Brin was one of the first 100 women rabbis to be ordained, and is one of the first generation of lesbian rabbis. She was a founding member of the Women of the Wall group, who fought for the right for women to pray openly at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and she led the first prayer service of women at the Wall on December 1, 1988.  She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, a Master's Degree in Pastoral Counseling from La Salle University in Philadelphia, and a Master of Hebrew Letters and Ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA. On June 6, 2010, Rabbi Brin received an Honorary Doctorate from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for 25 years of service to the Jewish Community.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, founder of Jewish Renewal with Rabbi Deborah J Brin

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, founder of Jewish Renewal with Rabbi Deborah J Brin

Rabbi Brin grew up in Minneapolis. Her parents, Howard {z'l} and Ruth {z'l} Brin were very dedicated members of the Jewish community and instilled in her a love for Judaism and the Jewish people. Her mother Ruth, a well known liturgical poet, sensitized her to the beauty and awe that can be encountered in the natural world.

Known among her friends as a healer, Rabbi Brin pursued a life-long dream and while serving as a chaplain at Grinnell College in Iowa, she enrolled in massage school and became a licensed massage therapist. Despite the fact that she was enthralled with the study of human anatomy and physiology, she declined her Jewish mother's challenge to at least become a physical therapist, if not a doctor.

Rabbi Brin co-edited the poetry section for the Reconstructionist prayer book KOL HANESHAMAH: Shabbat Vehagim. Her other publications include an article chronicling her experience leading the first women's prayer service and Torah reading at the Western Wall in the book, Women of the Wall; and "The Use of Rituals in Grieving for a Miscarriage or Stillbirth", in From Menarche to Menopause: The Female Body in Feminist Therapy.

Rabbi Brin is currently working to help families as a care manager at Decades in Albuquerque, NM.  She is also continuing to provide Jewish ceremonies, rituals, and pastoral counseling through Mishkan of the Heart.  

Nahalat Shalom is delighted to have Rabbi Brin leading a monthly Minyan HaLev Shabbat Service.