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Rabbi Marisa Elana James, Director of Social Justice Programming

Rabbi Marisa Elana James is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a long-time member of the CBST community. Before rabbinical school, Marisa was a college English teacher, competitive ballroom dancer, insurance broker, student pilot, bookstore manager, and professional Torah reader. As a teenager growing up in Connecticut, she was a co-founder of her high school’s GSA, the second to be founded in the state.

While living in Jerusalem for more than five years, Marisa worked for Encounter Programs, taught Introduction to Judaism classes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, studied at a wide variety of schools (including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, secular, and non-Jewish settings), and helped create and lead the rabbinical student program for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, where she most recently worked. Marisa has also taught English at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers, and acted as cantor for communities in Israel and America.

Marisa and her wife, contrabassoonist and translator Barbara Ann Schmutzler, live in New York City.