Rabbi Laura Geller came to Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in 1994. She was the first Reform woman rabbi to be selected through a national search to be the Senior Rabbi of a major metropolitan congregation. Rabbi Geller has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America for two years in a row, and receiving the California State Legislature’s Woman of the Year Award. In 2015 she was named one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis by Forward Magazine. Featured in the PBS Documentary called Jewish Americans, she is the author of many articles in journals and books, is an occasional contributor to the Jewish Journal and Huffington Post, and served on the Editorial Board of The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary, in which she has two essays.
Prior to being chosen as Senior Rabbi in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. Among her accomplishments at AJCongress was the creation of the AJCongress Feminist Center, which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. She came to AJCongress in 1990 after 14 years as the Director of Hillel at the University of Southern California.
Rabbi Geller is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. Rabbi Geller was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, and is the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. She is married to Richard A. Siegel, is the mother of Joshua and Elana Goldstein, grandmother of Avery Peter Goldstein, and the stepmother of Andy and Ruth Siegel.
In June 2016 Rabbi Geller celebrated 22 years at Temple Emanuel and transitioned to Rabbi Emerita. To mark her 40 years in the rabbinate she wrote the book The Torah of My Life: Forty Years in the Rabbinate and Still Counting. Still part of the Emanuel family, she continues her work with Emanuel’s Next Stage Initiative, and the cutting edge community building program in partnership with Temple Isaiah enabling boomers to age in a place called ChaiVillageLA. She and her husband are working on a book called Getting Good at Getting Older: A Practical Guide Grounded in Jewish Wisdom to be published by Behrman House in 2018.