Rabbi London is pictured at left with Mary Dixon.

On Friday Nov. 12, the 750-member congregation of Beth Emet the Free Synagogue installed Andrea C. London as its third senior rabbi – and first female senior rabbi – in 60 years. She has served as Beth Emet’s assistant rabbi since 2000 and became senior rabbi in July 2010. Rabbi London succeeds Rabbi Peter Knobel and founder Rabbi David Polish.

Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College, the educational and intellectual center of Reform Judaism and where Rabbi London received her ordination in 1996, addressed those assembled.

In 2006, Rabbi London led two congregational trips to hurricane-devastated areas on the Gulf Coast where Beth Emet members repaired homes and community centers. She also introduced Beth Emet to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations initiative, sparking discussions on local, regional, and national issues as an initial step to developing new social action efforts on issues of communal concern.

Rabbi London also has worked to build bridges between Chicago-area Jews, Christians and Muslims, and co-chairs the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative. 

Over the past 60 years, the principle of free speech has been one of the hallmarks of Beth Emet.

“From its origins, Beth Emet’s great strength has been its willingness to embrace growth and strive to embody our highest values as Jews. That quality is a tribute to the vibrant and dynamic leadership of Rabbi David Polish and Rabbi Peter Knobel, the lay leaders who supported them, and all of the members of our congregation, past and present,” said Rabbi London.