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Rabbi Camille Shira Angel

Biography

Rabbi Camille Shira Angel was born in 1965 in Arcadia, California, joining a family of two parents and an older sister.  Her father was a Reform Rabbi, continuing an eight-generation lineage of rabbis, though the first to be ordained in the Reform movement.  She was greatly influenced by her father and noted always feeling that the rabbinate was in her future. Angel completed her Bat Mitzvah a few years after the ordination of the first female Reform rabbi, leading to her to always believe that her gender would not be a barrier to her calling.

Angel received her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from UCLA and, immediately following graduation, went to work for Hillel at Claremont College. In 1989, she was accepted to the Hebrew Union College, which was not yet accepting openly LGBTQ individuals.   She entered rabbinical school conscious of the need to be closeted and felt relieved when the college passed a resolution the following year permitting openly lesbian and gay students.   She recalled how difficult it was for lesbian and gay rabbinical students during their field placements, often having to navigate congregations which where we not yet openly affirming.

In 1995, she was hired by the Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, becoming only the third openly lesbian rabbi to be hired by a non-LGBTQ-specific congregation. There she started the Gay and Lesbian Caucus Committee. She was at Rodeph Sholom until 2000 when she headed west to San Francisco to serve Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, known as the Golden Gate Synagogue. Sha’ar Zahav was founded specifically as an LGBTQ congregation in 1977.  During her fifteen-year tenure there, she helped publish the Siddu Sha’ar Zahav, a radically inclusive prayerbook used nationwide.

In 2015, she realized she realized she could serve Judaism without needing to specifically serve a congregation and transitioned into teaching 8th grade Jewish studies. While this was an enjoyable endeavor, she soon realized it was not the best path for her. In 2017, Angel started to teach at the college level, joining the faculty at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution.  By 2019 she was a full-time faculty member dividing her time between the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice and the university ministry office, serving as Rabbi-in-Residence. Currently Angel teaches two classes as USF, Honoring our LGBTQ Jewish Elders and Queering Religion. She is proud to be part of a school with such a large LGBTQ population among its students, faculty and staff.

Two articles have been written about Angel’s professional work and personal journey, one by Angel herself.  In March 2022, the San Francisco Bay Times published this article written by Angel, “Say Gay! Say Lesbian! If It’s Safe for You, Come Out and Feel Proud!” She was also profiled in the Jewish News of Northern California in February 2022, “Meet the Rabbi queering religion at Jesuit Catholic USF”

Angel has worked on the Mapping Jewish San Francisco Project, connected with the Swig Program. She has published several scholarly articles as well, including “Crafting a Liturgical Mirror”
  in 2014 and “Ruach Acheret-Ruach HaKodesh: Different Spirit-Sacred Spirit” in 2009.

Angel is a proud mom to her daughter Lilah Segal-Angel (now 21) from her first wife, Karen Segal. Angel is married to Wendy Lyn Brummer. They met in 2014 and had a Jewish wedding in 2021, followed by a civil ceremony in 2022.  Angel’s family includes two step-children, Zachariah and Francesca.

(This biographical statement was written for a Queer and Trans Theologies class at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in spring 2023 from an interview with Rabbi Angel and was edited by Camille Angel.)

Biography Date: March 2024

Tags

Jewish (ethnic, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox) | Jewish (Reform) | Clergy Activist | San Francisco | California

Citation

“Rabbi Camille Shira Angel | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 30, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/camille-shira-angel.

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