Rachel Kohl Finegold
One of the first women ordained by Yeshivat Maharat, a seminary for Orthodox Jewish women, Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold is the first woman in Canada to serve as clergy for an Orthodox synagogue. Raised Orthodox, Finegold began studying Jewish texts at an early age and went on to earn a BA in religion from Boston University and a certificate from the Drisha Institute for Women, where she completed an intensive three-year course in Jewish texts. She joined the first cohort of students at Yeshivat Maharat in 2009 and graduated in 2013. That year she began working as the director of education and spiritual enrichment for Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, the largest synagogue in Montreal, offering sermons, officiating life-cycle events, creating youth programs, and managing outreach to young professionals. Finegold crafts experiential Jewish education though her work on the board of the Bronfman Jewish Education Centre. She also serves on the editorial board for the journal of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), and has written for Kveller and other Jewish blogs about issues ranging from work-life balance to the need for Orthodox communities to recognize and welcome gays and lesbians.