Chava Weissler (1947-) is a scholar who studies the Jewish Renewal Movement, especially the organization called ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. During 2003, with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Weissler observed Renewal congregations and retreat centers in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, California, and Washington State, and interviewed rabbis, teachers and ordinary members. In May of 2003, she delivered the Stroum Lectures at the University of Washington, sharing her insights on Jewish Renewal, and for the fall semester 2003, she was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Having taught herself Hebrew at the age of twelve, Chava Weissler (1947-) earned her B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1967. Weissler worked as a secretary at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. and then at the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary while earning her M.S. in Library Service at Colombia University. After graduating in 1970, she began working at the Library of Congress where her work with books in various languages led her to study of Yiddish at the YIVO Institute in 1974.


Enjoying the academic atmosphere of YIVO, Weissler returned to school, earning her PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982. Her dissertation (published in 1989) Making Judaism Meaningful: Ambivalence and Tradition in a Havurah Community, examined the worship services and social dynamics of a Jewish community influenced by the counter-cultural values of the 1960s and 1970s. After graduating, Weissler taught at Princeton for the next six years while researching Jewish women’s devotional literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard Divinity School. In 1988 she began teaching at Lehigh University as the Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Department of Religion Studies.

After finishing her book on devotional literature, Voices of the Matriarchs: Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women (published in 1998), Weissler began a new project examining the Jewish Renewal movement and its organization, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, collecting interviews, materials and publishing articles. At Lehigh, Weissler continued to teach courses based on her research until her retirement in 2015.

The Chava Weissler papers include materials from her scholarship career, including research conducted on the Jewish Renewal Movement, her dissertation, book, and lectures that she gave on the subject. The collection also includes some of her research, ephemera collected at various events and retreats, as well as audio and visual materials from her work in this subject area.

Gift of Chava E. Weissler in 2016.