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Marisa Elana James

Rabbi Marisa Elana James is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a long-time member of the CBST community. Before rabbinical school, Marisa was a college English teacher, competitive ballroom dancer, insurance broker, student pilot, bookstore manager, and professional Torah reader. As a teenager growing up in Connecticut, she was a co-founder of her high school’s GSA, the second to be founded in the state. While living in Jerusalem for more than five years, Marisa worked for Encounter Programs, taught Introduction to Judaism classes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, studied at a wide variety of schools (including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, secular, and non-Jewish settings), and helped create and lead the rabbinical student program for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, where she most recently worked. Marisa has also taught English at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers, and acted as cantor for communities in Israel and America.


💬 איכה פרק ו׳ | Lamentations “chapter 6” in cantilized English, a supplement to public readings of Eikhah by HIAS (2018)

Contributed on: 13 Jul 2018 by Rachel Grant Meyer | Marisa Elana James | HIAS |

As we prepare to observe Tishah b’Av and commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem that led to the exile of the Jewish people for centuries to come, we are acutely aware that we find ourselves in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in recorded history, with more than 68 million people displaced worldwide. Given these extraordinary numbers, the continued attacks on asylum and the refugee resettlement program in the United States over the last eighteen months are even more inhumane. Of course, we know that the proverbial 10th of Av will come, and we will rise up from our mourning with renewed resolve to support refugees and asylum seekers. First, though, we take time to dwell fully in the mourning demanded by the 9th of Av. We fervently lament the many cruel actions this administration has taken to limit the ability of refugees and asylum seekers to seek safety in our country, and we mourn for lives destroyed and lives lost. . . .