You Should Know…Gevura Davis


Rebbetzin Gevura Davis jokes that she and her family are available 24/6, every hour, every day of the week, except for Shabbat. But even that’s not completely true.

On Saturday mornings, Davis and her husband Rabbi Binyomin Davis, the spiritual leader of Aish Chaim, an unaffiliated Jewish community, host more than 25 people around the kitchen table of their Bala Cynwyd home, where the lively group studies together.

Facilitating Jewish study and supporting community members in everyday and life cycle events are part of the job of a rebbetzin, which Davis believes is often misunderstood.

Gevura Davis is a white woman wearing a green dress with long brown har standing on a balcony with palm trees in the background.
Rebbetzin Gevura Davis | Courtesy of Gevura Davis

“A lot of people don’t understand necessarily what a rebbetzin is or why it’s a title,” she said. “It’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle.”

As both the rebbetzin at Aish Chaim and an educator at The Chevra, a group of 20- and 30-something Jewish professionals looking for Jewish education and connection, Davis is the glue for her communities. Her responsibilities range from teaching and speaking nationwide about mikveh and family purity to attending a school play for a young community member to getting coffee with someone in need of advice or support.

Davis balances her responsibilities with parenting five children and running marathons with her husband. (They’ve run five marathons in four years.)

“You’re helping people through their marriages; you’re helping people with the most intimate things in their lives,” she said. “It’s unlike any other job really. It never ends.”

Though Davis’ educational foundations come from Modern Orthodox values and traditions, many of her students and over half of the congregants at Aish Chaim do not identify as such. The goal of Davis’ classes is not to convince young Jews to practice their religion and culture a certain way, but to get them to care about being Jewish.

This generation of Generation Z and millennial Jews is eager to ask questions. Davis wants to break free of the rote learning styles that can get stale. 

“The essence of Judaism is choice and free will,” she said. “… We want people to be empowered with knowledge. We want people to make educated choices about how they want their family to look, who they want to marry, how they want to raise their kids. We want it to come from a place of empowered and inspired knowledge — not just because their grandparents told them they had to.”

The answer to the core question of Davis’ work as a Jewish educator — why should one care about being Jewish — didn’t come easily to her. 

As a child growing up in Marietta, Georgia, Davis was raised proudly Jewish, but her parents, unaffiliated with a synagogue or denomination, were not traditionally observant. Davis was one of 10 Jews in her high school population of 450. Instead of attending Shabbat services, she enjoyed going to church with her friends.

At Emory University, filled with existential questions, Davis enrolled in a class on Holocaust education taught by Deborah Lipstadt, now the United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. Davis’ father insisted that she take the course, having a hunch that Lipstadt would one day become famous. The class changed Davis’ life.

“It opened my eyes, and I started thinking a lot about existential questions,” she said. “And I felt like I was living a dual life: At night, I was a typical wild and crazy sorority girl, but then, during the day, I would read things like Primo Levi’s autobiography and watch concentration camp footage.”

Binyomin and Gevura Davis stand outside, embracing.
Rabbi Binyomin and Rebbetzin Gevura Davis | Courtesy of Gevura Davis

The class made her think about life’s purpose: to bring “as much light into the world to combat all the darkness.”

Davis packed her bags and spent a year studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She graduated college at age 20, and from there, her life snowballed. After graduating in May, Davis made aliyah in June, met her husband in October, got engaged in December, and married the next March. The couple had their first child the following February.

After five years in Israel, the couple felt pulled back to the U.S.

“At the time, Jewish education needed a real revitalization,” Davis said.

The young family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, for eight years before settling in Philadelphia, joining Etz Chaim, which later merged with Aish Philadelphia to become Aish Chaim. 

Just as their Jewish community has changed over the years, the Davises are adapting with it, offering music and opportunities to interpret and find new meaning in ancient Jewish texts. And just as Davis found a revitalized Jewish identity, she hopes the same for her students.

“Every generation needs a new spirit, a new energy,” she said.


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