Rabbi Elwell has written “O Pioneers: Reflections from Five Women Rabbis of the First Generation,” a chapter in the book The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate. In this anthology, rabbis and scholars from across the Jewish world reflect on the historic significance of women in the rabbinate and explore issues related to both the professional and personal lives of women rabbis. This collection examines the ways in which the reality of women in the rabbinate has affected all aspects of Jewish life, including congregational culture, liturgical development, life cycle ritual, the Jewish healing movement, spirituality, theology and more.
Rabbi Elwell served the Union for Reform Judaism for nearly two decades, strengthening congregations by building strong partnerships between professional and lay leaders. She was founding director of the Los Angeles Jewish Feminist Center, the first rabbinic director of Ma’yan, and she has served congregations in California, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. She also co-edited Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives, a finalist for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award; edited The Open Door, the CCAR Haggadah; served as the poetry editor and member of the editorial board of the award-winning The Torah: A Women’s Commentary; and co-edited Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation. At K Rabbi Elwell majored in English and studied abroad in Israel. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1986. She is the joyful mother of two adult daughters, is an ecstatic savta (grandmother), and lives in Philadelphia with her wife, Nurit Levi Shein.