Rabbi Deni Marshall
Raised in a secular household, I was a spiritual seeker for as long as I can remember. My curiosity led me to explore a number of different faiths and spiritual practices during my younger years, before I met my husband and started my journey home to my very own faith, Judaism.
After marriage I had two children and became a licensed clinical social worker. When my daughter was studying to become a Bat Mitzvah, the spiritual seeker and lifelong learner in me reawakened. I joined the Adult B’nai Mitzvah class at our synagogue in Sacramento and became a Bat Mitzvah. That was the first step of my journey to this moment, to my ordination as a rabbi.
In 2001 I completed the Moreh Derekh Spiritual Direction program and began seeing spiritual directees and leading spiritual direction groups. In 2015 I became a Jewish meditation teacher through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and began leading Jewish meditation in my community. A few years later I completed the Mussar facilitator’s training through The Mussar Institute and started facilitating Mussar groups in a few local synagogues. During this time, I also created a Renewal-style Shabbat service, which I have led monthly at my synagogue for a number of years.
All of this was amazing yet I craved more learning, so in 2018 I entered the ALEPH Ordination Program. It has been an incredible journey these past five years, and I feel humbled and honored to be receiving my ordination today.
To my husband of 41 years, Steve, I would not be here without you. You brought me back to Judaism and showed me what the word mensch means. You have always been there to support me every step of the way, with love and humor. To my children and grandchildren, I hope my journey will let you know it is never too late to learn and to pursue what you love. I thank you and my daughter-in-law for being so present in my life and sharing those three incredible grandchildren with me.
I am deeply grateful to my Rabbi and mentor, Rabbi Mona Alfi, to Cantor Julie Steinberg and to Rabbi Greg Wolfe for their support, guidance and encouragement. I have been constantly grateful and humbled by their trust in me to teach and to lead in my home community.
I am very grateful to my mashpia of many years, Rabbi Chaya Gusfield, for always being there for me spiritually and emotionally.
Thank you to all of the wonderful teachers in the AOP, with a special thanks to my directors of study, Reb Victor Gross and Reb Natan Margalit, and to Reb Tivona Reith for guiding me through my Capstone project and providing me with wonderful insights.
Finally, thanks to my friends who have supported me with special thanks to my meditation group, my chevrutah partner Lisa Bertacinni, and my spiritual va’ad of many years, Rabbi Robert Wolkoff, Roz Katz and Alissa Hirschfeld-Flores.