Vanessa L. Ochs Papers
Rabbi Vanessa Ochs, Ph.D. (b. 1953), is a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and a member of the Jewish Studies Program since its inception at the University of Virginia. Ochs received her B.A. in Drama and French from Tufts University (1974), M.F.A. in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College (1977), and Ph.D. in Anthropology of Religion from Drew University (2000). In 2012, she was ordained as a rabbi: Beit Cochman.
Ochs began her academic career at Colgate University (1980–86) before taking various positions in writing at Yale University, Hebrew University, and Drew University (1990–97). She was a senior fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL) in New York City (1995-2001). Ochs is a founding member of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia and its first Ida and Nathan Kolodiz Director (2001-2006).
Ochs teaches such topics as Jewish feminism, Jewish ritual, ethnographic fieldwork in religion, Abrahamic feminisms. In her research, she investigates new Jewish ritual, Jewish feminism, the Passover Haggadah, and Jewish material culture. She continues to explore the theme of “Jewish Sensibilities,” which has become the central focus of the journal Sh’ma and the work of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation, and is now featured as a curriculum produced by Hillel International. Her books include Inventing Jewish Ritual (winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, Sarah Laughed, The Jewish Dream Book (with Elizabeth Ochs), Words on Fire: One Woman’s Journey into the Sacred, and Safe and Sound: Protecting Your Child In An Unpredictable World.
Since its inception, Ochs has been a leader in "Women of the Wall." She has since affiliated with "Original Women of the Wall. Her work on "Jewish Sensibilities," initially appeared in Sh'ma 2003; it has since been adapted by Jewish educators and the journal Sh'ma Now.
Gift of Vanessa L. Ochs in 2018.