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 recently retired as Coordinator of Jewish Hospice and spiritual support counselor 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. has finally decided 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 now devoting full-time to writing, having recently retired as Coordinator of Jewish Hospice and spiritual support counselor 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.
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).
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.