Rabbi Estelle Mills
Rabbi Estelle Gottman Mills received her honorary doctorate for twenty-five years of service as a rabbi in 2017. Most of those twenty fiveyears were spent serving as the rabbi of Congregation KolChadash in the Cleveland suburb of Solon, and as the rabbi of Congregation Kol Am in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin. Under her leadership, these congregations experienced significant growth in membership and in their religious schools. She has most recently served as the interim rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Rabbi Mills has been recognized for her innovative and cutting edge programming. She was the recipient of the prestigious Legacy Heritage Innovator Grantand the Union for Reform Judaism has recognized her creative and innovative programming by awarding her an Incubator Grant for her Family Education Program: “Exciting Destinations, Jewish Explorations” and a Belin Award for her Membership Program: “No Regrets Membership”.
Her rabbinate has always included very active and ongoing involvement with the school and young families of the congregations she has served. A gifted educator, she passionately believes that strong, high quality Jewish educational opportunities and programming for all ages from seniors to the youngest learners are essential to strengthening and growing today’s congregations. For her, the response to declining involvement in congregational life is not watering down content; rather the answer is to make these experiences valuable, meaningful and accessible. She believes Judaism can coexist and enhance competing secular activities, but only if Jewish programming is innovative, creative, exciting and flexible enough to be compelling to today’s Jewish individuals and families. She recognizes that we are living in a time of great innovation in almost every area of life, and Jewish institutions must embrace these innovations to attract today’s families. She has been recognized and led workshops for her use of “Public Space Judaism”, using outside public venues for activities that then bring the unaffiliated into the congregation.
Rabbi Mills was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 1992, and holds a B.A. with honors in Jewish History from University of Michigan. Rabbi Mills lives in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. She and her husband, Rabbi Steven Mills are the proud parents of three children, Rafi, a 2015 Lehigh University graduate currently working at a government nuclear facility in Schenectady NY, Sivan, a 2017 University of Pennsylvania graduate who works for Aetna Insurance in Philadelphia and Noa, a student and soccer player at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.