You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Rabbis

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.

Ray Frank

Ray Frank's position in American Jewry was truly a novel one. In 1890, she became the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit in the United States, inaugurating a career as "the Girl Rabbi of the Golden West" that would help to blaze new paths for women in Judaism. Virtually overnight, Frank became a sensation in the Jewish world, and she would remain so for nearly a decade.

Ray Frank: "Lady Preacher" of the West

One-hundred and nineteen years ago today, Ray Frank became the first Jewish woman to speak from a synagogue pulpit in the United States. Ray Frank's story is particularly intriguing due to its complexity and the questions it raises. This was undoubtedly an important event in American Jewish women's history, but its impact is not straightforward, and thinking of Ray Frank as a heroine of the women's movement is somewhat problematic.

Mazel Tov, Alysa Stanton!

Apropos of Judith's recent post on Sotomayor and other "firsts," here's a celebratory shout-out to Alysa Stanton who became the world's first African-American female rabbi when she was ordained yesterday, June 6th, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. What does Stanton make of her status as a first? "If I were the 50,000th, I'd still be doing what I do, trying to live my life with kavanah and kedusha ... Me being first was just the luck of the draw," she explained.

Alysa Stanton ordained as first African-American female rabbi

June 6, 2009

Alysa Stanton becomes the world's first African-American female rabbi.

JTS Faculty Senate votes to admit women

October 24, 1983

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) faculty senate voted to allow women admission to the JTS Rabbinical School.

Rabbi Sally J. Priesand blesses U.S. Congress

October 23, 1973

Rabbi Sally J. Priesand offered the opening prayer in the United States House of Representatives, at the invitation of Congresswoman Bella Abzug.

Rabbi and military chaplain Bonnie Koppell profiled

August 31, 1990

Rabbi Bonnie Koppell, the first female Jewish chaplain in the U.S. military, was profiled in the "Omaha Jewish Press."

Congregation appoints first woman to serve as senior rabbi

August 1, 1979

Reconstructionist rabbi Linda Joy Holtzman became the first woman to lead a U.S. Jewish congregation when she was appointed the spiritual leader of the Coatesville, PA, Beth Israel Congregation.

"Life on the Fringes" explores Orthodox feminism

July 1, 2000

Haviva Ner-David's book "Life on the Fringes," about her commitment to an evolving feminist Orthodoxy and her quest for rabbinic ordination, was published.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rabbis." (Viewed on December 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/rabbis>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs