A 1976 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., was one of the first six women rabbis in the United States. A native of Boston, Rabbi Schneider holds a B.A. In Publication from Simmons College, Boston; an M.Ed. in Psychoeducational Processes from Temple University, Philadelphia; and an Ed.D. in Foundations of Education from Temple, as well as an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from the RRC. She attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and was awarded both the University and the Graduate School Fellowships at Temple. She has served as the Executive Director of the Board of Jewish Education of Atlantic County, New Jersey; as an Adjunct Professor of Education at Temple University and at LaSalle University; as Director of the Master of Arts in Education Program at Gratz College, Melrose Park, PA, and currently as Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice, Marlton, NJ. She has been a columnist for the Burlington County Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rabbi Schneider resides in Marlton, NJ, with her husband, Rabbi Gary M. Gans, and their sons, Natan and Ari Schneider-Gans.


Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D. hasn’t decided yet what (or who) she wants to be when she grows up. (She lives by the t-shirt logo: “I may grow older, but I’ll never grow up.”) In her current incarnation, she is Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice in Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia. (She was one of the first 6 women ordained as a rabbi in the US, back in 1976.) Interested in nature and conservation, she also works for the New Jersey Audubon Society at the Rancocas Nature Center.

In addition to ordination, she has earned a few degrees over the years, all in different disciplines and none worth much in the market place. (BA in Publication from Simmons; M.Ed. in Psychoeducational Processes from Temple; Ed.D. in Foundations of Ed. from Temple; honorary D.D. from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for surviving 25 years in the rabbinate). She also began piano lessons for the first time in her life when she was in her 50’s — a total disaster (especially for the teacher), but fun.

In her spare time (which she finds by never cleaning the house), she’s a birder and gardener, although her garden’s almost as much of a mess as her house. (She believes in benign neglect: she plants it; if it comes up, great; if it doesn’t, she tries something else. She lets nature do the watering, which is why everything in the flower boxes is dead, and refers to the weeds as “wild flowers and decorative grasses.”) When the weather’s nice enough to garden, she’s more apt to be birding.

Unlike her protagonist, Rabbi Aviva Cohen, Ilene has been married to the same man since 1976, and has two “millennial” sons, making her part of the trendy group of “older” parents.



  1. ileneschneider said,

    Be sure to “friend” me so you can follow the insignificant minutiae of my life at http://www.facebook.com/rabbi.author.

  2. Helene Tessler said,

    Just finished “Chanukah Guilt”. Really enjoyed and looking for more books by you now!! Thank you

  3. Jennifer Atlas said,

    I stumbled onto your article after googling Camp Naomi. So my focus is on Naomi ( I was there 1974 – 79). And regarding Instructional swim, well I actually remember on cold mornings that 1st period swim actually felt warm (perhaps that was a result of global warming!) All those years of instructional swim paid off for me. I can swim and swim and swim! Instructional swim started with 40 laps. And I can still do countless laps. My husband couldn’t believe how many laps I can swim. He was concerned that I would fail the NAUI Scuba diving test because of a mere 2 laps in the pool. I was surpised at how few he could swim (He didn’t go to camp). I loved camp! And I remain campsick!

    • Rabbi Ilene Schneider said,

      Maybe in the decade separating my Camp Naomi days and yours, the water warmed up. Or I was (am) just more sensitive to cold water than you. Or was just looking for an excuse – any excuse – to avoid instructional swim. I never really learned how to swim well – I think I was promoted from the beginners to intermediate swimming group only because I was too old for the lower one. I also wasn’t fond of camp – these days, my idea of roughing it is staying in a motel instead of a 5-star hotel. But I do admit to a certain nostalgia for Camp Naomi. Do you know if they ever have any reunions?

      BTW, you can follow my lastest blogs by going over to http://www.rabbiauthor.com.

      • Jennifer Atlas said,

        I do have to admit there was the old” I have cramps excuse” which kept us out of the water for an entire week!

        The power of Camp Naomi was that you had the time to start writing and they let you. Campers today have no idea of the benefits of being at a camp with no electronics and run on a shoestring budget. So the campers and the counselors ran the evening activities and the Shabbat services and everything else.

        There is a Camp Joseph Camp Naomi Facebook page and I believe a Yahoo group as well. And there is a reunion planned for Labor Day Weekend 2013.

      • Rabbi Ilene Schneider said,

        Thanks for the info. I’ll check out the facebook page. And Camp Naomi was where I discovered that tampons existed. My older son spent 5 (I think) summers at Camp Ramah, Poconos, and my youngest just finished his 6th at Camp Ramah, Wisconsin. No cell phones allowed, no email, no electronic games, no iPods. The only difference between then and now is that now the campers’ handwritten letters are scanned (by staff) and emailed to the parents who subscribe to the service, and our letters to the campers are emailed to the camp and printed out. To read a moving tribute my son wrote about his camp experiences, go to my new website: http://www.rabbiauthor.com/ and check my latest posting. Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D.CHANUKAH GUILT TALK DIRTY YIDDISH (BOTH BOOKS AVAILABLE IN PRINT OR AS E-BOOKS FOR KINDLE AND NOOK) UNLEAVENED DEAD (COMING SOON FROM OAK TREE PRESS!) http://rabbiauthor.com http://www.facebook.com/rabbi.author


  4. ZhEV FREED said,

    Great to come across your name. I know that you will remember “Makom” nights. Dunkin` Donuts for the Coffee House Nights – m-sh and the Fri N Kab Shabbat services. Came by you because of “Ilene Schnieder Writes” who has been visiting Israel and her friend. Recall when a cop thought that you were an anon nun because of your “Cleric” tag on your car?
    Happy & Healthy Purim. Rosh Hhodesh (Adar) Shalom. My Bro-i-Law lives in Toms` River, NJ. He is a Pediatric Anest. My wife, Judy, has a book store here, in BhER – SheV-A.

  5. Wicked Wednesday: Looking forward to Malice | Wicked Cozy Authors said,

    […] with Beverly Allen aka Barbara Early, Clare O’Donohue, Nancy J Parra aka Nancy Coco, and Ilene Schneider. Their books are […]

  6. The Deadliest of Ink | greenfields said,

    […] Ilene Schneider, author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen series (and, I just learned, quite a devoted birdwatcher) […]

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