You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share
Jewesses with Attitude

From Maharat to Rabbah

A year ago we congratulated Sara Hurwitz on becoming a Maharat.  Today we rejoice in her new title: Rabbah.

The subject of ordaining Orthodox women rabbis is highly controversial. Last year Sara Hurwitz completed the required course of study in Yoreh Deah to become a spiritual leader, but instead of receiving the title of rabbi, a new title was created for her.  "Maharat" was created from an acronym that loosely translates to mean a leader in religious law and spirtual matters.

But "Maharat" never really caught on, and according to her mentor Rabbi Avi Weiss, it was somteimes used disrespectfully.  Sara Hurwitz told The Jewish Week that the confusion caused by her unfamiliar title made it difficult to do her rabbinic duties. 

Wednesday, Sara Hurwitz and Rabbi Weiss announced that she would be adopting the title of Rabbah, a term chosen by participants at Kolech Religious Women’s Forum Conference in Jerusalem last summer. "Rabbah" they decided, was the best term to describe Orthodox clergywomen.

This is exciting news only weeks away from the 13th anniversary of the first conference on feminism and Orthodoxy, which prompted the growing Orthodox feminist community to found the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA).

We send a hearty mazel tov to Sara Hurwitz, and are excited to add her story to This Week in History, JWA's calendar of events and milestones in Jewish women's history.

More on: Feminism, Rabbis,
Sara Hurwitz
Full image
Photo courtesy of The Forward.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "From Maharat to Rabbah." 28 January 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 3, 2015) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews



Which topics pique your interest on the JWA blog?


2 hr
Today in 1995, Lynn Gottlieb published her guide to nonsexist Judaism, "She Who Dwells Within."
20 hr
RT @dbauder: Television's 'Judge Judy' will stay in session through 2020. New deal for TV's highest-paid personality.
21 hr
@MoisheKavod "Each month I gather with other young Jewish women at Moishe Kavod House" #SpiritualKneading