Laurie Rutenberg's rabbinic life has been devoted to working with unaffiliated Jews. She held one of the first Jewish outreach positions ever on a college at the University of Michigan. She became the first rabbi ever to serve in the position of Associate University Chaplain at Yale University and she was a director of Jewish Outreach for Hillel at California State University at Northridge. In 1990, with her husband and colleague, Gary Schoenberg, she founded Gesher—A Bridge Home in Portland, Oregon, as a new model of outreach and welcome to unaffiliated Jews and intermarried families. They and their children Avital and Michael have built their lives around the mitzva of bringing in guests 7500 of them, mostly families and younger adults, modeling joyous and supportive Jewish home life, and building relationships with strangers – become friends - whose lives have been transformed by that experience. Gesher is a village that finds Laurie and her family walking into any synagogue or Jewish event in Portland and connecting with friends who entered Jewish Portland through Gesher. Laurie was the first woman to serve as president of the Oregon Board of Rabbis. In 2000, she was named to the Forward Fifty.
Laurie and Gary are the proud parents of two children: Avital, a graduate of Yale University and a director of theater in many cities around the country, and Michael, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and an incoming Phd student at Yale University in bio-physics. Both are passionate Jews, who have helped welcome 7500 different guests into their home, with the core self esteem that flows from this experience.