Pioneering Rockdale Temple Rabbi Sigma "Sissy" Faye Coran has died

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Posted at 6:08 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 22:58:24-04

CINCINNATI — Rabbi Sigma "Sissy" Faye Coran, the first female senior rabbi to serve a Cincinnati congregation, died Friday after spending her final days surrounded by family and loved ones, according to an email sent to the Rockdale Temple congregation that she served since 2004.

"We turn our hearts to her husband, Rabbi Matthew Kraus, her children, Jacob (Kim), Shirah, Micah, and Eden, and her entire family, as they grieve their enormous loss," the email stated. "We join them in sorrow, remembering Rabbi Coran with great love, admiration, and respect. As we sit with our own pain and grief, we ask for privacy for Rabbi Coran’s family."

Coran had informed the congregation several months ago that she had been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. In an email sent to the congregation on Tuesday, Coran wrote that she had hoped to continue her work at Rockdale throughout her treatment.

She did just that until a few days ago.

"I am grateful that during this time I have been able to continue to be with all of you, to share in your joys and sorrows, to move forward doing the work that I am meant to do, and to achieve the vision I have for our sacred community, Rockdale Temple," Coran wrote in the email. "My family and I have been grateful for your understanding and love over the past few months."

The email ended with a note that said in the time since Coran had composed her letter, her health had taken a turn. It informed the congregation that, as of Tuesday, she was receiving hospice care.

Coran became senior rabbi of K.K. Bene Israel Rockdale Temple on July 1, 2004, according to the temple's website.

She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up in Akron, Ohio, her biography states. She studied clinical psychology and biology at Tufts University and was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

Coran was active in a number of social justice organizations, including Ohio Religious Action Center.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be private, according to the email sent by Rockdale Temple President James Heldman and Associate Rabbi Meredith Kahan.

"We will have opportunities in the coming days to come together as a sacred congregation to mourn, remember, and honor our rabbi, teacher, and friend," they wrote.