Rabbi Gila Ruskin

Ima on the Bima
“Ima on the Bima” photo by 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 and her husband, Dr. Paul E. Ruskin lived and worked in Baltimore until 2017 when they moved to Philadelphia. They are the parents of three grown children and five darling grandchildren. Her mother, Harriet Colman, age 95, lives in Michigan and is 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. Sheikh Omar Balokh and the Masjid Al Falaah joined the partnership and they have pioneered Martin Luther King Day programs that have drawn large, diverse attendance in Harford County.

Rabbi Gila 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.  Her mosaic pieces adorn our temple building as well as synagogues, homes, and other institutions around the country. She especially welcomes groups to co-create this artwork.

Please contact Rabbi Gila at rabbi@templeadasshalom.org if you would like to chat, learn Torah, find spiritual channels of comfort and joy, or to arrange to make 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)

Rabbi's Sermons

Selected sermons are organized into years.  Click on a year, then click on a sermon to view/download.  We encourage comments and debate and reactions from our community.

Rabbi's Mosaics

  • River of Justice
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display
  • Mosaics on Display

Rabbi In the News

Below are a few of the news items in which Rabbi led or participated.

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Farewell, Charm City”
by Rabbi Gila Ruskin
Jul 25, 2017

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Orthodox Woman Supports LGBTQ Community”
by Simone Ellin
Mar 31, 2017

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Repentance, Forgiveness, Relief. Only If It’s Heartfelt”
by Susan C. Ingram
Sept 12, 2018

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Building Community: Rabbi’s on a Mission to Engage Jewish Harford”
by Susan C. Ingram
Feb 14, 2018

The Baltimore Sun - The Aegis

“Multi-Faith Group Takes “Journey to Peace” in Honor of Dr. King at Harford Synagogue”
by David Anderson
Jan 15, 2018

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Farewell, Charm City”
by Rabbi Gila Ruskin
Jul 25, 2017

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Orthodox Woman Supports LGBTQ Community”
by Simone Ellin
Mar 31, 2017

Baltimore Jewish Times

“The Evolution of the Female Rabbi”
by Daniel Nozick
Mar 24, 2017

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“White Supremacist Fliers Discovered In Bel Air”
by Simone Ellin
Feb 17, 2017

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Anti-Semitic Fliers Found in Bel Air”
by Hannah Monicken
Feb 16, 2017

The Baltimore Sun - The Aegis

“Harford Muslims, Jews, Christians honor Martin Luther King Jr.”
by The Aegis/The Record
Jan 17, 2017

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“A Coming Together for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Havre de Grace”
by Staff Report
Jan 16, 2017

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Love, Acceptance: Our Neighborly Pledge”
by Daniel Nozick
Nov 23, 2016

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Interdenominational Gathering Explores Commandment of ‘Love Your Neighbor’”
by David Snyder
Nov 22, 2016

JMORE- Baltimore Jewish Living

“Weaving A Mosaic of Memories”
by Rabbi Gila Ruskin
Oct 28, 2016

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Local Artist, Rabbi, Displays Mosaics at Gallery”
by Daniel Nozick
Oct 14, 2016

The Baltimore Sun - The Aegis

“By Force of Will, the Elusive Dream of Racial Equality is Kept Alive”
by The Aegis/The Record
Feb 1, 2016

CBS Baltimore - Channel 13 News

“Peaceful Baltimore Demonstrators Calling For Justice & Peace”
by Tracey Leong
May 3, 2015

New York Times

“In Baltimore, National Guard Pullout Begins as Citywide Curfew Is Lifted” 
by Alan Binder, Richard Fausset and Nikita Stewart

NPR Podcast Special

“Confronting Hatred: 70 Years After the Holocaust”
Narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman
April, 2015

The Baltimore Sun - The Aegis

“Havre de Grace Synagogue, AME Church Join to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.”
by Bryna Zumer
Jan 19, 2015

Baltimore Jewish Times

“Breaking the Color Line: 50th Anniversary of the Desegregation of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park”
by Ron Snyder
Jun 27, 2013