Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

Image source: danyaruttenberg.net
  • Faith: Judaism
  • Profession: Rabbi
  • Lived: 1975-
  • Nationality: American
  • Known for: Rabbi/Author
  • Fun Fact: Rabbi Ruttenberg used to describe herself as an atheist.
  • Fun Fact: Rabbi Ruttenberg reconsidered religion after her mother died.
  • Fun Fact: 
Danya Ruttenberg is an American rabbi, editor, and author. She’s written several books, on top of contributing to numerous publications and news outlets before her ordination in 2008.

Early Life

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg was born on February 6, 1975. Her family attended a Reform synagogue in Chicago, and she described herself as having been atheist around that time. Ruttenberg later became a part of the Conservative movement within Judaism. As an undergraduate at Brown University, she was drawn to religious studies. When she was in college, her mother died of breast cancer, and Ruttenberg reconsidered religion and practiced Jewish mourning rituals, which she said allowed her to make friends with Judaism and be open to it. By the time she graduated, she was a regular at Friday night services. She eventually decided to become a Masorti rabbi.

She serves as Scholar in Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).  Before her ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2008, she worked as a freelance writer and has since served as rabbi and educator at Tufts and Northwestern Universities. She has also worked for Hillel International for the dialogue project Ask Big Questions and Avodah, which is dedicated to creating economic justice leaders. She lives in the Chicago area with her spouse and three children.

Ruttenberg’s Accomplishments

Ruttenberg is also an award-winning author and writer.  She was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” as one of 21 “faith leaders to watch” by the Center for American Progress, and by the Forward as one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis. On applying an ancient framework of repentance and repair to the contemporary public square, institutions, and national policy, her newest book is due from Beacon Press in 2022.  She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Time, Newsweek, and many other publications and regularly contributes to The Washington Post and The Forward.  She has been featured on NPR several times and in The Atlantic, USA Today, NBC News, CNN, MTV News, Vice, Buzzfeed News, Upworthy, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Al Jazeera America, Reese Witherspoon’s podcast How It Is, and elsewhere.

Ruttenberg’s Books

She is the author of seven books; Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books), which the National Jewish Book Award finalist and PJ Library Parents’ Choice selection; Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), nominated for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and a Hadassah Book Club selection. Her other books include The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press), Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press), and, with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, three books for the Jewish Publication Society’s Jewish Choices/Jewish Voices series: Sex and Intimacy, War and National Security, and Social Justice.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg has built up a following of thousands on Twitter for her progressive, feminist teaching. She first encountered Twitter as a new rabbi working for Hillel, the Jewish organization for college and university students. On Twitter, she was intrigued by the diversity of experience and opinions. And eventually, she found herself using it when she had the time.

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