Sandy Eisenberg Sasso – The Rabbi

In 1969 when Sandy Eisenberg received her B.A. from Temple University in Philadelphia, there were no women rabbis in America. Secular feminism was just emerging and religious feminism was nonexistent. The Fall of 1969 Ms. Eisenberg entered seminary hoping to become a rabbi. Five years later, in 1974, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first woman ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

After three years at a Manhattan congregation, she moved to Indianapolis in 1977 with her husband Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso. They became spiritual leaders of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and are the first practicing rabbinical couple in world Jewish history. In July 2013, after 36 years at the congregation, she became Rabbi Emerita and is presently Director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary.

Rabbi Sasso earned her B.A. and M.A. from Temple University and her Doctorate of Ministry from Christian Theological Seminary. She is the recipient of several honorary doctorates: Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; DePauw University; Butler University; Franklin College; and Christian Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Sasso has been active in the arts, civic, and interfaith communities of Indianapolis and beyond. She has served on numerous boards addressing issues of women’s equality, education, hunger, philanthropy, the humanities, and the arts. She has been President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Gleaners Food Bank, and Chair of the annual Indianapolis Spirit and Place Festival. She also writes a monthly column for the Indianapolis Star.

As a woman pioneer in the rabbinate, she has written and lectured on women and spirituality. Her rabbinic and interfaith work has helped to shape her interests in the discovery of the religious imagination in children and the connection between spirituality and the arts. She is the author of several nationally acclaimed children’s books, her latest—The Shemah in the Mezuzah—winning the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book.