Rabbi Debra Kolodny (Rabbah D’vorah – they/them) is a veteran of several social justice movements, bringing a spiritual perspective and an activist’s passion to racial and economic justice, women’s, environmental, peace and LGBTQ causes since 1981.
They currently serves as the spiritual leader of Portland’s UnShul and is a social justice consultant, helping to build advocacy coalitions, teaching “Interrupting Hate in Public Spaces” and supporting labor-management partnerships. They just launched the Portland Spirit Led Justice Alliance to support, expand and amplify the contribution of spiritual leaders and communities in justice campaigns.
From 2002 until 2011 she served as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the headquarters organization of the Jewish Renewal Movement. They moved to Portland to serve P’nai Or as its rabbi, then led Nehirim-a national retreat and advocacy organization for LGBTQ Jews. In 2016-June 2017 they served as Executive Director of Resolutions Northwest.
Since 1998 Rabbah D’vorah has worked at the intersection of faith traditions, a place she considers to be a fulcrum of power and potential. Rabbah D’vorah was the facilitator of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable from 1998-2004, helping shepherd this interfaith consortium of Welcoming and pro-LGBTQ faith traditions housed at The Task Force. For the next six years they retreated annually at Kashi Ashram, learning from Guru Ma Jaya Sati Baghavati. In 2011 they co-created and co-taught with Ibrahim Baba, z’l’’ (may his memory be a blessing) a Sufi Sheikh and the former Provost of the Starr King Seminary a week-long Jewish/Sufi workshop filled with mystical practice, prayer and text study. In 2015 they conceived and co-led Bosom of Abraham: Rocking our Sufi, Jewish and Christian souls with Sufi Guide Arifa Byron and UCC Pastor Jennifer Brownell. This Portland inter-spiritual prayer, learning and practice community brought chant, zikr, learning and meditation together in a unique experience that transcended dialogue and cultivated expanded consciousness. They have also been a tai chi practitioner since 1996.
In addition to their spiritual practice, leadership and activism, Rabbah D’vorah has taught in hundreds of venues on the topics of Judaism and sexual orientation, gender identity, meditation, prayer, environmentalism, Eco-Kashrut, Restorative Justice, mysticism, peace, deep ecumenism, healing the wounds created by religion and more. They published Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith in 2000, as well as dozens of essays and interviews in anthologies and magazines.
Rabbah D’vorah graduated from Cornell in 1981, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985 and from the ALEPH Jewish Renewal Seminary in 2011.