Orthodox women are making history in front of our eyes. On June 16, three women will be ordained to serve, in effect, as Orthodox rabbis, given the title of Maharat (an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters).
They will graduate from Yeshivat Maharat in New York City, the first and thus far only women to receive institutional ordination as religious and spiritual leaders in the Orthodox world.
Three years ago this month, Rabba Sara Hurwitz made history in the Jewish world by becoming the first publicly ordained female rabbi in the Orthodox community. Since then, the 35-year-old mother of three has been working as Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, an institution dedicated to training women Orthodox clergy, as well as working as Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, which this June will graduate the first three women with the title of Maharat — an acronym for “Religious, spiritual, Torah leaders” — marking yet another important milestone for women in Orthodoxy. Rabba Hurwitz explained to "The Sisterhood" what this all means.
I was sitting in a meeting about a pilot project on gender in Jewish education a few years ago when a male colleague interrupted to proudly announce the release of his new book, a compilation of essays that he edited about Jewish education in North America. Naturally, I flipped through the hot-off-the-presses volume and searched for women writers. To my surprise, there was not even one. I asked the man why there were no women among the fifteen or so authors.
Following the arrest today of Anat Hoffman — chair of Women of the Wall, and former Jerusalem municipal council member — for being a woman holding a Torah at the Western Wall plaza, Hoffman offered me her first-hand account of this morning’s events.
I knew I would regret it as soon as I started typing, but I did it anyway. As much as I try to avoid getting into virtual arguments in talkback-land, this week I found myself unable to restrain myself. The language, it seems to me, is at the root of the problem, and that’s where the fight needs to take place.
The current issue of the JOFA Journal offers a smorgasbord of thoughtful articles about clothing in Orthodoxy, aka “tznius“.
President Carol Kaufman Newman writes about how different today’s Orthodoxy is compared to when she was growing up and freely wore cheerleader outfits. “I would be less than honest if I did not confess that all this covering up gives me pause.”
Naomi Wolf — the feminist Jewish author of the bestselling landmark book, “The Beauty Myth,” which brazenly exposes how the multi-billion dollar beauty industry manipulates women’s entire sense of self — is gorgeous. For two decades now, the brilliant and outspoken Wolf has decried cosmetics, plastic-surgery and hair removal businesses while appearing, let’s just say, well made-up.