Rabbi Miriam S. Jerris, Ph.D.

Rabbi Miriam Jerris serves as the rabbi for the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Jerris has been committed to the philosophic principles of Humanistic Judaism since 1970. As a leader in the secular and humanist organizations for the past thirty-five years, Miriam has maintained that people are not just at the center of a Humanistic Jewish philosophy, they are the heart of the movement.

Reflecting on her rabbinate, Rabbi Jerris cites five key characteristics that have shaped her role as a leader, teacher, and mentor: 1) tikkun halev, healing the existential pain of human existence through compassion; 2) supporting people to accept responsibility for themselves and the goals they wish to achieve; 3) nurturing Jewish identity; 4) increasing Jewish literacy; 5) being open to creative alternatives as they relate to liturgy and celebrations.

Rabbi Jerris holds Masters Degrees in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Center for Humanistic Studies, in Humanistic Judaism from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, and a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies with a specialization in Pastoral Counseling from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ordained as a madrikha (clergy) in 1988, Jerris was ordained as a rabbi in 2001 by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. She is a member of its faculty. Jerris has served on the boards of most movement organizations and is currently the President of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. Rabbi Jerris is the 2006 recipient of the Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. Rabbi Jerris is a regular contributor to the journal, Humanistic Judaism and serves on its editorial board. She has a regular column in SHJ’s newsletter, Humanorah, entitled, “Building Community.”

A specialist working with Jewish intermarried families, she has officiated at hundreds of weddings and baby naming celebrations, led dozens of intermarriage workshops and seminars, spoken to Jewish organizations, and is a regular contributor to, a Web magazine serving the intermarried population. Her doctoral thesis is entitled, “The Silent Minority: Jewish Clergy who Provide Support for Intermarriage.”

Jerris is co-founder of the Wedding Connection, along with her Catholic born husband, Stephen Stawicki, a Master Bridal Consultant. Ms. Jerris also is a Humanist Minister, ordained by the Humanist Society, associated with the American Humanist Association. She offers pre-marital and marital counseling, if desired. Her background and education places her in an exceptional position to serve the needs of couples from different cultural and religious backgrounds. She is committed to celebrating, with dignity, couples whose needs often go unmet, whether they be humanistic, interfaith, interracial, intercultural, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. She has performed more than 1,500 life cycle ceremonies since 1985. Jerris raised two children in Humanistic Judaism and reaps the supreme pleasure of celebrating Humanistic Judaism with her three Humanistic Jewish grandchildren.