Jonathan D. Sarna “Spiritual Journey Leads to a Historic First”

Source: NYT, 6-5-09

Forty-five years ago, Alyssa Stanton was born into an African-American, Pentecostal family in Cleveland. On Saturday, Ms. Stanton is to become a rabbi — the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi by a mainstream Jewish seminary, said Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.

Al Behrman/Associated Press

Alyssa Stanton, once a Pentecostal, plays down her new role as the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi.

Ms. Stanton is scheduled to assume the leadership of an overwhelmingly white synagogue in Greenville, N.C., in August. In interviews, many observers drew parallels between her joining the rabbinate and November’s presidential result. “It is of incredible importance to note that her ordination coincides with the election of Barack Obama,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College, who will ordain Ms. Stanton at the college’s Cincinnati campus on Saturday. “It offers a ray of hope that the world can become a better place.”…

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