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Services Held This Week for Rabbi Carole Meyers

A well-respected rabbi who led Temple Sinai for 15 years, Meyers is mourned by family, fellow La Cañadans and her former congregation.

August 03, 2007|By Leticia Cheng

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park for Rabbi Carole Meyers of La Cañada, the first female rabbi in Los Angeles to lead a congregation. Meyers, 50, died last Thursday after a two-month battle with bone cancer. She led Temple Sinai of Glendale for 15 years.

Meyers became a rabbi at the age of 29, and was hired at a time when female rabbis were very uncommon. Most women in the rabbinate worked on college campuses, in social services, or as assistant rabbis. Today, they make up roughly 50 percent of all Reform seminary students, and colleagues believe that Meyers helped encourage women to enter the rabbinate.

Praised by many who knew her as a thoughtful leader, a learned rabbi and a loving mother, Meyers played a vital role in the Jewish Reform movement, and was "very active in left of center issues … she was very respectful and articulate of other people's viewpoints. She was cutting edge on so many issues, making sure everybody was thinking about things," said Paul Dietz, a close friend of the rabbi and a member of the Temple Sinai congregation.

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"She was very bright, very creative, and a very thoughtful rabbi and teacher," agreed Rabbi Rick Schechter of Temple Sinai, who added that she was a brilliant and one-of-a-kind woman.

Her many admirers extended also to the younger set. Dietz describes her family night services as "legendary," and were one of the reasons his now young adult children, grew to enjoy going to the temple.

"She was very good at drawing kids in," he said as he recalled how she would often encourage children to participate in the stories she told. In addition, she was active in the religious school and played a large role in helping adolescents and their parents understand the significance of the bar and bat mitzvahs.

During Meyers' leadership, Temple Sinai saw unprecedented growth as membership more than doubled, which was attributed to her vibrant sermons and her unique ability to be accepting to all members of her congregation. Meyers particularly prided herself in reaching out to interfaith families.

In addition to her heavy involvement at Temple Sinai, Meyers mentored rabbinic interns, particularly females, during her tenure as a member of the clergy, taught at Hebrew Union College, and was a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an association for the Reform movement.

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