Marcia Zimmerman ’81

2011 Distinguished Citizen Award

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When Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman was a sophomore at Macalester, she attended an event at the Hebrew House featuring a woman who was becoming a rabbi. "I had heard of women becoming ordained, which began in 1972, but that was the first time I had ever met a woman on that path," she says. "I call that the beginning."

After graduation, Zimmerman began a program in rabbinic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was ordained in 1988. She joined Temple Israel in Minneapolis that year and was named its senior rabbi in 2001, the first woman to serve as senior rabbi of one of the 10 largest synagogues in the United States.

Zimmerman is also the president of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and on the United Way board, as well as serving as a member of the ethics committee at Children’s Hospital. She is a founding member of the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.

During her time at Macalester, Zimmerman majored in sociology and was head of the Hebrew House her senior year. Her high school was 70 percent Jewish, and she says being at Macalester strengthened her faith because she had to explain Judaism to students who weren’t familiar with the religion. "It’s part of why I do intense, meaningful, interfaith work now," Zimmerman says. "Macalester opened doors for me that I never could have imagined, and the liberal arts education opened my mind to incredible experiences of learning."

At Macalester, Zimmerman also met her husband, Frank Hornstein ’81. They have three children, including Rebecca Hornstein ’13.