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Jerusalem - Eight More Women To Earn The Title Of “Rabba” In Ordination Ceremonies

Published on: June 12, 2015 01:43 PM
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Jerusalem - Two women, Rachel Berkowitz and Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy, will be ordained this week with the title “Rabba” by Rabbis Daniel Sperber and Herzl Hefter at the Jerusalem Orthodox center Har’el, reports Ha’aretz (http://bit.ly/1IO1uWF).

Berkowitz and Hammer-Kossoy are following in the footsteps of Rabba Sara Hurwitz who received her ordination in 2009 from Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of Yeshivat Maharat in Manhattan. Yeshivat Maharat will also ordain an additional six women on Sunday.

There has been much debate over the use of the term Rabba, as it is identical to the title bestowed by the Reform and Conservative movements when ordaining women rabbis. Despite a severe backlash in the US and Israel, Rabbi Weiss has continued to ordain women, but in the last four years has referred to his women graduates as “Maharat”- a Halakhic spiritual Torah leader - instead of Rabba.

Although this year’s class was ordained as Maharats, the women have opted to call themselves Rabba, said Avital Engelberg, one of the graduates. “We had a long discussion about it. After Rabbi Weiss ordained Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Maharat was a compromise proposal. But the graduates felt it was no longer so frightening to come nearer to the real name, ‘that which isn’t uttered.’ Step by step our confidence is growing, due to the fact that more women are dealing with halakha and more Orthodox synagogues in the United States want women as part of their rabbinical staff. Maharat was suitable for a certain period, but we acquired our title with much labor.”

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Rabbi Sperber, who has emerged as a key leader in the liberal Orthodoxy movement, defended the women graduates, saying he has known them for since 1992 and they have been teaching Torah for many years. “Their ordination will not change their careers, but it’s a semi-institutional recognition of the numerous years of investment and devotion.”

Though Rabbi Sperber admits to reservations about using the term Rabba and finds the term Maharat to be “a little strange,” he says, “We must not be afraid of the title ‘rabbi.’ I’m impatient. I’m too old. If the Torah doesn’t move forward with the people, it will remain in the desert, and that will be a disaster.”


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Read Comments (36)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 12, 2015 at 01:51 PM Anonymous Says:

I wonder if this title will have any effect, positive or negative, on the taste of her potato kugel.

2

 Jun 12, 2015 at 01:52 PM Anonymous Says:

will her husband be called rabbatzin? p.s. I don't envy him.

3

 Jun 12, 2015 at 02:02 PM Anonymous Says:

The school is not in Manhattan. It's in Riverdale, which is in the Bronx.

5

 Jun 12, 2015 at 02:34 PM HankM Says:

Sick symptom of a very broken modern orthodox movement. For 4000 years orthodoxy did perfectly fine without women rabbis (a skunk by the name of raba smells just as putrid). But now the sages feel they need to improve on the wisdom of the rishonim. It's pure chutzpah

6

 Jun 12, 2015 at 02:42 PM qazxc Says:

Misguided. Extremely misguided.

7

 Jun 12, 2015 at 02:43 PM yossi Says:

LOL what else can you say about the new religion being formed by Avi Weiss and his buddies. To his credit though I have noticed some parallels to Judaism.

8

 Jun 12, 2015 at 03:36 PM DanielBarbaz Says:

Kol HaKavod to these brave and scholarly women.

9

 Jun 12, 2015 at 03:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Wonderful, they should be matzliach.

10

 Jun 12, 2015 at 03:45 PM Curiosity Says:

"If the Torah doesn't move forward with the people, it will remain in the desert..."
This guy defines "forward" as a direction which is away from the Torah, which is why he feels it must be "moved" (read "changed") to accommodate. I've got a basic lesson for this know-it-all, that any Torah observant schoolchild knows: Hashem wants you to live by the Torah, not "move" the Torah to fit your twisted ideas.

11

 Jun 12, 2015 at 03:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Tooth decay for voices of jewish hope.

They are disgusting and someone should floss.

Give them no returns.

12

 Jun 12, 2015 at 04:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Certainly none of the people posting have ever learned with any of these women. Rabbi Weiss did not attach his name to ignorant women (daatan kalos). These women can learn circles around most Kolel chevramen. How do I know? Because I attended a shiur with them. In the area of Nida and Mikvaos, their knowledge is incredible.

13

 Jun 12, 2015 at 05:44 PM savtat Says:

They should call them Rebbetzin!!! There are some areas in Halacha that are very much more comfortable to ask woman to woman. Many shailos go unasked..... Not sure why this has touched such a nerve? We ask teachers in seminary, what is so different about this? They are learning the same halachot as everybody else.

14

 Jun 12, 2015 at 05:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Certainly none of the people posting have ever learned with any of these women. Rabbi Weiss did not attach his name to ignorant women (daatan kalos). These women can learn circles around most Kolel chevramen. How do I know? Because I attended a shiur with them. In the area of Nida and Mikvaos, their knowledge is incredible.

Brainiac, it has nothing to do with how much they can learn. Orthodox Judaism forbids women from becoming rabbis, no matter what deviant label you give them. Period. They are not orthodox. They're apikorsim.

15

 Jun 12, 2015 at 07:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

I wonder if this title will have any effect, positive or negative, on the taste of her potato kugel.

It'll taste about the same that your (male) rabbi makes.

16

 Jun 12, 2015 at 07:55 PM mendoza Says:

hashem yerachaim

17

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:02 PM eli845 Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Brainiac, it has nothing to do with how much they can learn. Orthodox Judaism forbids women from becoming rabbis, no matter what deviant label you give them. Period. They are not orthodox. They're apikorsim.

I am totally not with them but wow you make such a statement. Where do you take that from? You are missing the point what is wrong with this whole thing. And so are all of you that are defending the so called "tzadikim"

18

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:05 PM MyThreeCents Says:

The Torah has been here before the world was created. Histakloh beOraisso Uboroh Olmah, so how can these misguided people say the Torah would still be in the desert? Orthodoxy is not allowed to change our time honored traditions and ordain women.

19

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Many years from now, Rav Weiss, shlita, and these outstanding women will be recognized for having paved the way for a new era of participation by bnos yisroel in the heimeshe tzibur. In many cases, they will be among gadolei yisroel of the next generation.

20

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
HankM Says:

Sick symptom of a very broken modern orthodox movement. For 4000 years orthodoxy did perfectly fine without women rabbis (a skunk by the name of raba smells just as putrid). But now the sages feel they need to improve on the wisdom of the rishonim. It's pure chutzpah

Actually, this shows that the old model was broken since it did not provide a meaningful way for jewish women to participate in the governance of klal yisroel even though many were considerably more knowledgeable about daas torah and halacha.

21

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:33 PM REALIST Says:

Reply to #8  
DanielBarbaz Says:

Kol HaKavod to these brave and scholarly women.

That's obviously exactly what they're looking for!!

22

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:42 PM REALIST Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

Many years from now, Rav Weiss, shlita, and these outstanding women will be recognized for having paved the way for a new era of participation by bnos yisroel in the heimeshe tzibur. In many cases, they will be among gadolei yisroel of the next generation.

I can see it now...
Kids in Lakewood buying Golden Fluff popcorn cuz each bag will contain a picture card from the "Gedolos Series"!

23

 Jun 13, 2015 at 11:50 PM REALIST Says:

QUOTE: Rabbi Sperber, who has emerged as a key leader in the "liberal orthodoxy" movement".
NEWSFLASH: If it's liberal, it ain't Orthodox!!
It's like saying "diet French fries"!

24

 Jun 14, 2015 at 12:01 AM REALIST Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Actually, this shows that the old model was broken since it did not provide a meaningful way for jewish women to participate in the governance of klal yisroel even though many were considerably more knowledgeable about daas torah and halacha.

You and your ilk are working with the premise that it's based on knowledge. I guarantee that the wives of our Gedolim of yesteryear had greater Halachic knowledge than any of these short sleeved "maha-Rats", and yet they knew, or possibly because of that, they knew that their contribution to the governance of the Klal (as one poster wrote) is in the running of the Jewish Home.

25

 Jun 14, 2015 at 01:20 AM From Israel Says:

Brings new meaning to the word Rabba -NUT.

26

 Jun 14, 2015 at 01:39 AM Anonymous Says:

There was a time I respected Avi Weiss
His late father in law Reb Zalman A. Hilsenrad was a special yid
I suspect he is not kvelling from his seat in shamayim.
Avi Weiss is a good man but his ideas are in need of redirection.........
back to the true Torah way.

27

 Jun 14, 2015 at 04:48 AM BarryLS1 Says:

Reply to #7  
yossi Says:

LOL what else can you say about the new religion being formed by Avi Weiss and his buddies. To his credit though I have noticed some parallels to Judaism.

That is part of a larger problem in our world today. It's like a pendulum. When it swings too far in one direction, it snaps back too far in the other direction. Both is extreme. We see women wearing Arab type burkas. That's sick too.

28

 Jun 14, 2015 at 06:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
REALIST Says:

QUOTE: Rabbi Sperber, who has emerged as a key leader in the "liberal orthodoxy" movement".
NEWSFLASH: If it's liberal, it ain't Orthodox!!
It's like saying "diet French fries"!

While you are certainly entitled to your mood on this matter, one can indeed be a classical liberal mind and an orthodox jew. You are blindly calling the idea of being permissive liberal. That is false. But good day to your stretch of your imagination. You can not have diet french fries, but you better be liberal enough to understand the constitution. It might be hard to live without human grace from G-d.

Best wishes.

29

 Jun 14, 2015 at 09:15 AM elchonon Says:

The idea of woman helping in halacha is fine, This title being given is nothing more than FEMINISM.I have a relative who also is into this movement. Her husband makes Kiddush and she makes hamotzi. It is totally not lishma it is a lifestyle statement.

30

 Jun 14, 2015 at 09:17 AM BP Mom Says:

Society was fighting Sara Schneirer when she started the schooling for girls movement. This too shall pass and will one day be the norm. Women are of equal to men in today's society, if it's doctors, lawyers or business moguls. We are just as capable. I would much rather have a woman rabbi passken my sheylas.

31

 Jun 14, 2015 at 09:24 AM Kook nisht Says:

Can't wait to see them sitting along side the Zionist Jerusalem rabbinate male members. Give it a little time and the bGatz Zionist Supreme Court will order them there and likewise permit them to be witnesses on their gittin .

32

 Jun 14, 2015 at 11:53 AM Curiosity Says:

#30, it's not about society's resistance it's about the gedolim's da'as Torah. They say it's misguided and not the derech, so who are you, who is Avi Weiss, and who are these "Maharats" to say otherwise? If you have no respect for gedolim & daas Torah you shouldn't be paskening anyone's shaylas - you should be opening up a mussar sefer and learning about humility.

33

 Jun 14, 2015 at 07:40 PM HankM Says:

Reply to 20. So the old middle is broken and needs to be repaired? Aka haskalah! And you're an apikoros

34

 Jun 14, 2015 at 07:44 PM HankM Says:

Reply to 29. Very chauvinistic! If they were true liberals, she would make kiddush and he hamotzei, at least on alternate shabbatot! This religion too needs reform

35

 Jun 14, 2015 at 10:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Name them not rabbas but as they deserve. Call them in the singular Sharatz and for the plural Sharatzin.

36

 Jun 15, 2015 at 07:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Brainiac, it has nothing to do with how much they can learn. Orthodox Judaism forbids women from becoming rabbis, no matter what deviant label you give them. Period. They are not orthodox. They're apikorsim.

Where exactly does it say that Orthodox Judaism forbids women from becoming Rabbis?

37

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