Sisterhood Blog

Rabbinic Sister Act

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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There have been countless examples throughout Jewish history of children following parents into the rabbinate. There have even been instances in which two or more siblings, especially male ones, have chosen to become rabbis. But a family in which all three daughters get ordained? There have been no documented cases — until now.

The Reform movement’s flagship seminary, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, has just released this video, which celebrates that Ilana Mills has newly joined her sisters, Mari Chernow and Jordana Chernow-Reader, in the Reform rabbinate. That apparently makes them the first family to have scored a female rabbinic hat trick.

Having grown up immersed in Reform Jewish life in Sherman Oaks, Calif., it seemed natural to the sisters to go into the rabbinate. It’s really all in the family: The women’s father, retired Superior Court judge Eli Chernow, serves on the Union for Reform Judaism’s national board, and their mother, Arlene Chernow, is a URJ outreach coordinator.

Rabbi Mari Chernow, ordained by HUC-JIR in 2003, is the senior rabbi at Temple Chai in Phoenix, Ariz. Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader was ordained in 2010 and is director of lifelong learning at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, Calif. Rabbi Ilana Mills, ordained May 13, will be taking a job at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, Ariz.


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