Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel

In Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz’s role as Senior Rabbi at Temple Israel, her focus on social justice, compassionate care, inspired worship, and relationship building has enriched both Temple Israel and the broader Dayton community. She is the first woman to hold the role in the 168-year history of Temple Israel, which is Dayton’s largest Reform congregation.

Writes her nominator, “Reform Judaism places a high value on Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world. Rabbi Karen was one of the organizers of the battle against Islamaphobia in the Miami Valley in 2016, understanding that a community that does not embrace all its members is not a strong community. Her leadership is truly inspiring.”

Rabbi Bodney-Halasz has an overarching goal of creating a community in which all feel recognized and welcome, starting at Temple Israel, and then expanding to initiatives within the Dayton Jewish community and the community at large. She sits on the board of LEAD, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton, which works to improve the lives of Dayton residents through structural change. She also works with the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism as part of RAC Ohio’s core leadership team, translating global thinking into local action.  Rabbi Bodney-Halasz established a women’s Torah study group at a local coffee shop, coordinated a civil rights trip for teens, and led a group of 20 congregants on a week-long humanitarian trip to aid the Cuban Jewish community.

Rabbi Bodney-Halasz is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Women’s Rabbinic Network. She earned a bachelor’s degree in comparative literary studies from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

“Her work to represent Judaism to the broader community is essential now more than ever, and she does that with each class she teaches, each individual she helps to better understand Judaism, and each small but vital task she accomplishes to make Dayton a strong, vibrant, inclusive community.”