Ima on the Bima (couresty Stu Needel) Rabbi Gila Ruskin joined Temple Adas Shalom in 2007 and she was appointed as the congregation's permanent rabbi in 2009. Rabbi Ruskin cherishes the great variety of opportunities she has had to serve as a rabbi since her ordination in 1983 from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. For two academic years, she was the full time instructor of Bible and Holocaust Studies at an urban Catholic High School in Baltimore. On Christmas morning in 2006, she and her African American students appeared on the TODAY show as a modern example of Peace on Earth.
Prior to that, Rabbi Ruskin worked for 15 years as the spiritual leader at Chevrei Tzedek, a Conservative congregation in Baltimore, and taught 8th grade Bible at Krieger Schechter Middle School. She has held such diverse roles as: mental health chaplain; pastoral counselor; curriculum development and professional development coordinator for Jewish educators and Jewish camps; university, day school, adult education, and afternoon Hebrew School instructor; spiritual educator in an Oncology unit, leader of multiple teen tours to Poland and Israel, and coordinator of programming for Jewish and African American high school students.
Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1983 and has lived in Baltimore since then. Rabbi Ruskin is married to Dr. Paul Ruskin, who is a psychiatrist at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. They are the parents of three grown children and five darling grandchildren. Her parents, Albert and Harriet Colman, age 93, live in Michigan and are a continual source of inspiration.
Exploring creative and interactive approaches to Biblical texts leading to awareness and action towards social justice is Rabbi Gila Ruskin’s passion.
In 2013, she served as the co-project director of Opening the Gates: Celebrating 50 Years. She was thrilled to mark the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park with thousands of people on July 7, 2013, honoring those who courageously protested and risked harassment and arrest on behalf of justice . Rabbi Ruskin initiated a partnership with Rev. Baron Young and St. James AME Church in Havre de Grace which has resulted in several successful programs. The River of Justice Mosaic was completed by both congregations, and in 2016-2017, a four part series on Hope and Healing will be hosted by our two congregations for the local community. She has been certified as an instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid, and will be offering free training in Harford County.
She can often be found with her hands in mortar or grout, as she creates her colorful mosaic interpretations of prayer and Scripture. She hopes that you will join her in this dynamic, spiritual mosaic craft that creates a new beauty and wholeness from what was once broken or discarded.
From September 1-October 24, 2016, 36 of her mosaics are displayed at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Hoffberger Gallery in JUDAIC MOSAICS.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel, Chapters of the Sages
Born 110 BCE, died 7 CE
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013: Our Rabbi Ruskin is very involved in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. She is featured in an article from the Baltimore Jewish Times. 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park
Contact Rabbi Gila Ruskin
On CBS Baltimore News regarding the civil disturbances: "Peaceful Baltimore Demonstrators Calling For Justice & Peace". Link to the video segment.
The New York Times: "In Baltimore, National Guard Pullout Begins as Citywide Curfew Is Lifted"
Rabbi contributes to an NPR podcast: "Confronting Hatred: 70 Years after the Holocaust" including Morgan Freeman
Rabbi Ruskin's Sermons can be found here