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Coral Gables synagogue appoints first female senior rabbi

Rabbi Judith Siegal will become senior rabbi of Temple Judea in Coral Gables on July 1.
Rabbi Judith Siegal will become senior rabbi of Temple Judea in Coral Gables on July 1.
Temple Judea

For the first time in its 66-year history, a Coral Gables synagogue will be led by a female rabbi.

Rabbi Judith Siegal will begin her role as senior rabbi of Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd., on July 1. She has served as the Reform Jewish congregation’s assistant rabbi since 2006.

Temple president Barry Schwartz praised Siegal‘s intelligence, vision, integrity and attitude.

“She has a personal spirituality and warmth that have made her the object of well-deserved love and reverence from our congregation,” Schwartz said.

Siegal’s appointment caps a year-long search for a religious leader to replace Rabbi Edwin Goldberg, who left Judea last year after 17 years to lead a congregation in Chicago. Temple Judea hired Rabbi Peter Knobel to serve as interim rabbi while it searched for Goldberg’s permanent replacement.

Originally from New Orleans, Siegal was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York with a master’s degree in Hebrew literature. She also has a master’s in social work from the University of Texas in Austin.

Temple Judea, which was founded in 1948 as the Coral Gables Jewish Center, includes about 600 member families.

“Through teaching Torah, leading prayer and building community, my goal is to work in partnership with Temple Judea’s lay leadership, inspire others to become more conscious of how we live our lives and develop a greater concern for the world and our role in changing it for the better,” Siegal wrote in a recent letter to congregants.

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