About Rabbi Lappe

Founder and Rosh Yeshiva


Rabbi Benay Lappe is the Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1997, Benay also currently serves as Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Next Jewish Future in Chicago, and as an Associate at CLAL—The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. An award-winning educator specializing in the application of queer theory to Talmud study, Benay has served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Temple University, American Jewish University, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, The Graduate Theological Union’s Center for Jewish Studies at UC-Berkeley, Milken Community High School, and The Wexner Institute.


During her tenure as Director of Education at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, in Manhattan, Benay founded CBST’s Lehrhaus Judaica, which has served over 10,000 students to date. Benay also cofounded the Queer Jewish Think Tank at Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, in Los Angeles, which still operates today.


Benay’s writings have appeared in Shma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility; eCLAL: An Online Journal of Religion, Public Life and Culture; The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: CLAL’s Guide to Everyday and Holiday Rituals and Blessings; Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation; Torah Queeries, among others.


Benay was named to Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis List of 2013 (and is a little embarrassed about this but also a little bit proud), The Forward’s 2014 List of Most Inspiring Rabbis, was awarded the 2015 Mintz Family Foundation Award for Creative Jewish Education, and is a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for innovative Jewish education. While learning and teaching Talmud are her greatest passions, Rabbi Lappe is also a licensed pilot, shoemaker, and patent-holding inventor.

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Watch Rabbi Lappe’s ELI Talk: “An Unrecognizable Jewish Future: A Queer Talmudic Take.”


Watch Rabbi Lappe’s ELI Talk or TEDx Talk, or click HERE to read some of her essays.