Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks
When Rabbi Rooks was a full time Rabbi, she directed worship and ritual and oversaw all the music offered at The Temple. Along with Dr. Louie Bailey, the Music Director, she directed Shir Chadash, The Temple’s volunteer choir. In 2012, she released her second collection of original Jewish music on CD titled Sukkat Shalom: Shelter of Peace. All the money from the sale of CDs goes to the WHAS Crusade for Children, the largest independent charitable fundraising organization in the country, raising almost six million dollars each year for special needs children in the Kentucky and Southern Indiana region.
Rabbi Rooks is seen regularly on “Moral Side of the News,” the WHAS-TV Interfaith Panel which is broadcast on local television and to 38 states on radio. She also serves on the clergy allocations committee of the “WHAS Crusade For Children.”
Rabbi Rooks has been an adjunct faculty member at Spalding University Graduate School Department of Religion, the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Indiana University Southeast. She also serves as co-chair and founding member of STAR – Systematic Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders at the Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center, a division of the University of Louisville School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.
Her Rabbinic Thesis, Halachic Guidance for the Terminally Ill, provides insights from Jewish tradition for the modern day dilemmas of biomedical ethics. Rabbi Rooks has continued her interest in morals in medicine by serving on the Ethics Committee of the Norton-Kosair Children’s – Alliant Hospital In-vitro Fertilization Board, and currently on the Hosparus Ethics Committee.
Rabbi Rooks is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati where she was ordained in 1984. She received her Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Los Angeles campus of HUC, prior to which she spent a full year at the College’s Israel campus in Jerusalem. In May 2000, Rabbi Rooks received her Doctor of Ministry degree from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In June 2009, the Hebrew Union College conferred a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa upon her in recognition of her 25 years in the rabbinate. In 2012, Rabbi Rooks received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Centre College for her work in The Temple Congregation and the community at large.
Her undergraduate career was spent at Brandeis University, where she graduated cum laude in 1979 as a double major in Psychology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. She served twice as the chairperson of the Reform Group of Hillel and studied abroad her Junior year at the Jacob Hiatt Institute in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Rooks is married to Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport, who is also a Senior Rabbi at The Temple. They are the parents of two awesome young adults – Yael and Lev.
Rabbi Rooks has served The Temple congregation since 1988. She taught in a variety of adult education classes, as well as the Religious School’s fifth grade class and worked closely with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students. Rabbi Rooks was involved in Social Action and Women’s Programming, along with Outreach to people becoming Jewish and intermarried families in the congregation. Her work with senior adults led her to create Senior University, an annual day-long series of seminars for senior adults.