Rabbi Sharon Brous
Sharon Brous had no interest in becoming a rabbi until a bewildering weekend in the Old City of Jerusalem where she was given the answers to all of life’s questions. She quickly realized the answers were facile and unconvincing, but knew that the questions were the ones she wanted to spend her life grappling with.
As a rabbi she found herself drawn not only to those invested in finding meaning in Jewish life, but also to those deeply disaffected, and she began working to make Jewish learning, ritual and community compelling and meaningful even for those alienated by conventional religion. In 2004 Brous met Melissa Balaban and a handful of Jews searching for a different kind of Jewish experience, and, realizing they shared a passion for social justice, meaningful Jewish engagement and Haagan Dazs ice cream, they created IKAR – now one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the country.
Brous was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree. After ordination, she served as a Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in NYC.
Since starting IKAR, she has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading rabbis by Newsweek, and as one of the Forward’s 50 most influential American Jews. She was a contributor to Newsweek and The Washington Post’s “On Faith” column, and was a guest on Krista Tippet’s “Speaking of Faith” on NPR. She sits on the faculty of Wexner Heritage and REBOOT, and on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights. She is also a rabbinic advisor to American Jewish World Service, the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Task Force to Advance Multireligious Collaboration on Global Poverty.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David, and three children – Eva, Sami and Levi.
Rabbis for Human Rights – North America
Founded in 2002, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America (RHR-NA) is an organization of rabbis from all streams of Judaism that acts on the Jewish imperative to respect and protect the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we advocate for human rights in Israel and North America. We are proud to partner with Rabbis for Human Rights-Israel in our efforts to protect the human rights of Jews, Palestinians, and all others living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In our North American work, we are proud to partner with a range of Jewish, interfaith, and secular organizations that share our commitment to human rights.
- “Every human being is created in the image of God” Bidmut Elohim asah oto: It is incumbent on each of us to act in a way that affirms the fundamental dignity of every human being. Respect for each human being is the foundation of Jewish ethics.
- “[We must] do what is just and right.” La’asot Tzedek U’Mishpat: For a nation to have legitimacy, it must enforce a system of law that is fair, equitable, and just.
- “Do not oppress the stranger, orphan or widow.” Ger, Yatom, V’Almananah Al Tonu: We have a duty to promote a society that cares for the economic well-being of all of its members, especially those who are most vulnerable.
- We believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights flows from these Jewish values, as well as from our own historical experience, especially that of the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. Therefore, it is incumbent on us, as Jews, to defend the human rights of all who are oppressed.