Deborah Megdal is a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she is earning her master’s degree in Talmud and Rabbinics with a certificate in Applied Halakhah (Jewish Law).
Deborah previously worked in litigation at a Manhattan law firm after clerking for a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. She earned her J.D. at Yale Law School in 2012, where she was Managing Editor of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and worked on an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in the case that legalized same-sex marriage in California (which became Hollingsworth v. Perry before the U.S. Supreme Court). She also worked in impact litigation at Lambda Legal; researched gender in the military; and in family law, helped low-income clients struggling with issues of domestic violence and child custody.
Deborah graduated from the University of Chicago as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a Student Marshal, with degrees in History and Gender Studies. She taught a workshop on rape and sexual assault for South Side public schools and facilitated an oral history project on the experience of women at the University. Her thesis, ‘Be Fertile and Increase’: The Regulation of Marriage, Divorce, and Personal Status in Israel, was nominated for best thesis in International/European History.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, Deborah lived in Jerusalem, where she was actively involved in the Jerusalem Open House, both as a researcher for its Lesbian Oral History Project and as a member of the queer women’s discussion group. She also participated in the T’ruah Year-in-Israel Program in partnership with Rabbis for Human Rights.
The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor from Poland and the great-granddaughter of migrant farm laborers from Mexico, Deborah is proud to be fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a rabbi. She lives with her partner Karen, and loves teaching about animal justice using Jewish texts.