Traditional temple

A historic rabbi will lead the Sioux Falls Temple

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – A spiritual pioneer will lead Friday night Sabbath services at Mount Zion Temple in Sioux Falls. Cathy Nemiroff is believed to be South Dakota’s first-ever female rabbi.

The Temple of Mount Zion goes down in history before the High Holy Days, a major holiday in the Jewish faith.

“It’s a great time of year,” said Rabbi Cathy Nemiroff.

It’s a special time of year because Mount Zion is now led by a rabbi who is a woman. The temple issued a national call for a rabbi in the spring, and Cathy Nemiroff responded to that call.

“I’ve never been the first female rabbi anywhere, so I think it’s an honor and it’s a privilege and it’s something I want to experience,” Nemiroff said.

Nemiroff also works as a chaplain at an aged care facility in St. Paul. She will fly to Sioux Falls once a month to perform her rabbinical duties there.

“My priorities are leading services, adult education, helping with the education of children, and being available to the congregants in any way I can,” Nemiroff said.

Rabbi Nemiroff had never been to South Dakota before. His first visit to Sioux Falls was in July for his job interview.

“It was a prairie route there, as far as I know. And I didn’t know there was so much culture here,” Nemiroff said.

Mount Zion members say the non-traditional hiring of a woman as a rabbi will benefit the entire congregation.

“It’s a reflection of our community. Our pews are made up of many women and for us to be able to see each other on the bima leading us in prayer is spiritually rewarding,” congregation president Jen Dreiske said.

Nemiroff says she looks forward to serving the spiritual needs of Mount Zion members as a historic rabbi.

“I think it’s a wonderful place. The people are quite welcoming and quite warm,” Nemiroff said.

Nemiroff is from New York and was ordained 20 years ago.

She began her duties in Sioux Falls last month.