Rabbi Debra Bowen is a native of Philadelphia and is the spiritual Leader of Congregation Temple Beth’El, located in the West Oak Lane section of the city. It is an eclectic synagogue whose membership is majority African American. She is the daughter of the late Rabbi Louise Elizabeth Dailey, z”l, who was a brilliant teacher of Torah and the spiritual leader of CTB for 50 years.
Debra worked closely with her mother during her lifetime and assisted in many of her religious duties. She received her ordination after years of studies under her tutelage. Rabbi Bowen was greatly respected throughout her community, and when her mother passed in 2001, Debra was chosen to carry on the work of spiritual leader. For the last 18 years, Rabbi Bowen has brought to her position her love of Torah and her commitment to imparting Jewish values to her constituents, contributing to her many accomplishments.
CTB is a viable community comprised of many young professional couples dedicated to Torah and who love their synagogue. Rabbi Bowen places great emphasis on outreach to the growing population of youth in her community, developing programming and services that help to reinforce their love for their Jewish heritage and also encouraging weekly attendance at shul.
As spiritual leader, Debra finds herself counselor, teacher, motivator, innovator, and fundraiser, among many other things. She follows in her mother’s footsteps, always seeking to simplify complex halachic matters that evolve as her constituents embark on their spiritual journey.
In 2006 Rabbi Bowen pioneered the development of: The Phenomenal Israelite Women’s Conference, an organization that empowers women, by providing a platform to discuss issues that are apropos to their varying needs. The group is expanding and has members both nationally and internationally. Rabbi Bowen has also forged alliances with a wide variety of Jewish organizations such as The Jewish Federation, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), and Jewish National Fund (JNF). Rabbi Bowen led twenty seven members of the community to Israel in the summer of 2018. While there, the group was hosted by both M.K. Michael Oren and M.K. Abraham Neguise at the Knesset.
Rabbi Bowen has a degree in Accounting from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. She had more than 35 years of business experience prior to becoming rabbi of CTB, working in both government and private industry which has allowed her to maintain and develop the financial solvency of the synagogue. Rabbi Bowen is married to Dr. Earl Bowen, Jr., a university administrator, and they are the proud parents of a blended family of five sons. They live quietly in the sprawling hills of Central Bucks County, PA.