About Rabbi Ellen Born in Brooklyn and raised in New York suburbs, Ellen was graduated at 19 from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Stanford University. She then moved to Los Angeles to try to break into the entertainment industry as a scriptwriter (massive fail!) and worked a number of editorial jobs in Los Angeles and New York before deciding to become a schoolteacher. While teaching English in Los Angeles Unified School District, Ellen wrote and published her first two books. In 1998, she put together her book The Jewish Woman’s Book of Wisdom and decided to pursue a career in Jewish professional life.
Ellen began to study synagogue music seriously and to work as a cantorial soloist that year. She also took classes in harmony, music theory, and conducting, and in May 2003, she earned a master’s degree in Judaic studies at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, acquiring a solid foundation in Bible, rabbinics, Jewish history, and Jewish philosophy. In June 2006, Ellen completed the rigorous independent-study process sponsored by the American Conference of Cantors and Hebrew Union College’s School of Sacred Music to be certified as a cantor. Three years later, Ellen joined the student body at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA.
After ordination in June 2014, Ellen decided to move to the Tidewater area of southeastern Virginia, where her husband grew up, to reach out to unaffiliated Jews and spiritual seekers with the joyous, progressive approach to Judaism she has experienced all her life and was privileged to develop in seminary. She lives in Virginia Beach, VA, with her husband, Spencer Gill, and their mixed-breed pup, Cookie.