Rabbi Allison Conyer from the Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue in Bentleigh was recently awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She completed her initial university degree in four years. Five years studying for her rabbinic degree followed, and since then she has been a practising rabbi within the Jewish community in Australia and overseas.
She said, “It is an honorary doctorate, its recognition of 25 years of learning and growing and of service as a rabbi,” Rabbi Conyer said. “I did not have to write a thesis or undertake any further education.”
However, education is important to her, and she quotes: “Who is wise? One who learns from all people” from the Mishnah. “I think the more you learn the more you get inspired,” she said. “You don’t stay stale; you learn, and you grow. I’ve always been curious and there’s so much to learn and the more you learn, the more you understand the world and people around you.”
Shule president Pam Spiegel said, “This incredible achievement is a testament to her unwavering commitment, wisdom, and guidance over the years.”
The words on her doctorate certificate validate Spiegel’s comment. For example: “whose respect of the plurality of Jewish perspectives and practice has been a core principle of her rabbinate; and who, as the founder of Jews for Social Action, brings tikkun to our troubled world as embodied in the prophetic call to do justice, love, mercy and walk humbly as our God’s partner”.
With all the study and reading in her life, The AJN asked her what was the last book she read. Rabbi Conyer replied, “I like a lot of spy novels and total escapist things … nearly always fiction.
“However, I just finished the book about the Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai who was shot for opposing restrictions on female education in her country.”