For the first time in 164 years, the University of San Francisco has a Rabbi in Residence on the full time University Ministry staff. Along with being a lifelong practitioner of the Jewish faith, Rabbi Camille Angel brings her experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and hopes to bridge the gap between being LGBTQ+ and part of a religious community.
USF hired a Rabbi in Residence because of its commitment to support all aspects of the student body. As a Rabbi in Residence, Angel is able to meet with students and staff to talk about pastoral moments in their lives and can be consulted for any faith-based issue that members of the community may experience. She is also the faculty advisor for a new organization called Q Community, as well as for the Jewish Student Organization.
“Too many of my students have decided that organized religion or institutional religion equals prejudice and discrimination, colonization, and every other thing that they want to have nothing to do with, and not enough of my students have experienced the gifts of being part of a community, of being part of a set of values and history that fight for social justice,” said Angel.
Why did USF bring in a Rabbi in Residence now as opposed to five years ago, or 20 years in the future? Aaron Hahn Tapper, director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, explained that this addition has been many years in the making. According to Hahn Tapper, the idea of installing Angel in the Rabbi in Residence position first came up in 2016. Then, following the Swig Program’s 40th anniversary in 2018, sufficient funds were raised to hire Angel as a full-time member of the University Ministry, as well as an adjunct professor.
Angel, a California native, comes from generations of rabbis. After seeing eight generations of men in her family become rabbis and her older sister marry a rabbi, Angel decided to take it a step further and become a rabbi herself.
Angel has specific expertise in intersectionality between religion and sexuality, being both a rabbi and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Angel hopes to provide help and support to everyone on campus, regardless of their religion or sexuality, because of her belief in helping everyone be free of any shame or oppression. She splits her time across her office in the University Ministry, her classroom, and her activities and programs that provide opportunities for more diverse and inclusive education.
“As a Jesuit-Catholic school, we really care about the students’ whole-person development and their spiritual, religious, inner lives are part of that,” said Dowd. “And Camille joins our staff as a member of the clergy and a rabbi with all of her experiences, and also as someone who is very open to serving students of all faiths and backgrounds just like all of us.”
Starting as a guest speaker in the Swig Program, Angel eventually decided to teach her own class before becoming USF’s Rabbi in Residence. This class, “Queering Religion,” provides her with the opportunity to combine two important aspects of her identity in the educational setting that she loves.
“I think over the semesters of teaching my ‘Queering Religion’ class, I was able to make a case that, as much as it is important to be a rabbi here and reach our Jewish students and our Jewish faculty and administration, it’s as much important to be here as a queer Jewish rabbi, to reach our queer students and their families and administration faculty,” said Angel.
The University Ministry has welcomed Angel with open arms and is excited to have her involved in all faith-related activities on campus.
“We are really interested in her ‘Queering Religion’ class, and developing a co-curricular component to the class which she is doing with student leaders through the Breaking Bread and the Binary program, developing our spectrum retreat for LGBTQI+ students,” said Julie Dowd, the director of University Ministry. “She’s been doing a lot of things to build a bridge between our office and students of theology studies.”