AAPI/Jewish Heritage Month Spotlight: Rabbi Mira Rivera
Mira Rivera is all about spreading the word of Judaism to those who seek it. Rivera was born in Michigan to Filipino immigrants. Despite being born in the U.S., she was raised by her grandmother in the Philippines before being educated in Varanasi, India. She developed a love for dance early in her childhood.
Rivera eventually found her passion for dance led her back to the U.S. as she enrolled in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated with a BFA in Film and the Founders Day Award. Following her time at Tisch, the rabbi danced for the Martha Graham Dance Company and Ensemble under renowned choreographer Yuriko Kikuchi. She spent some time performing in Broadway and off-Broadway productions through the Actors’ Equity. She taught school-aged children through National Dance Institute and the Irene Diamond Summer Institute during her dance career.
Rivera pursued her passion for dance while also exploring her Jewish faith. She taught young children at local synagogues and also practiced yoga and meditation while attending services at B’nai Jeshurun. This love for Judaism led her to enroll at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she became officially ordained in 2015 and earned her MA in Jewish Studies. She was the first Filipino-American woman to earn this degree. Her studies eventually led her to a chaplain residency at Mount Sinai Hospital after being accepted into Romemu Center’s Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellowship.
Rivera was an Associate Rabbi and Board Certified Chaplain at Kehillat Romemu in NYC from 2018 to 2022 after completing her residency. During her tenure, she took charge of several initiatives such as the Community Kitchen, Morning Minyan, and Social Action Committee. Later, she took a break from her duties to serve as Rabbi-in-Residence for The LUNAR Collective and JCC Harlem, which cater to Asian American Jews and Jews of color, respectively.
Rivera’s work as a rabbi has extended to social justice causes. She collaborated with the Rabbinical Council of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the National Council of Jewish Women. Recently, she co-founded a safe space for Jews of Color called the Harlem Havruta and also established the Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle following the events of 2020.
Rabbi Mira Rivera has been using her platform to promote unity between the Jewish and BIPOC communities. Her efforts have brought attention to those who have been underrepresented in the faith. Rivera has demonstrated strong leadership by empowering and uplifting others. I will say, “Rabbir Rivera, we appreciate you representing and serving marginalized communities.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable, My Rock and My Redeemer.Mira Rivera