Ruth Balinsky Friedman

b. 1985

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Ruth Balinsky Friedman until we are able to commission a full entry.

Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman, photo courtesy of Maharat Friedman.

One of the first graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, the first Orthodox seminary to ordain women, Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman is crafting a new model of religious leadership for Orthodox women and girls. The daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, Friedman studied psychology and Jewish studies at Barnard, and after her graduation in 2007 felt drawn to continue her Jewish education. She attended Drisha, an intensive Jewish text study program for women, before applying to the newly established Yeshivat Maharat in 2009. In 2013 Friedman was part of the first cohort to graduate from the new institution. She began working for Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, DC, where she worked until 2023 and where her responsibilities included overseeing conversions, leading adult education programs, and pastoral counseling. She has also written articles on religious issues for The Washington Post, The Jewish Standard, and other journals. She is a founding member of the Beltway VAAD, which oversees conversion, kashrut, and other religious guidelines for the Orthodox community, and is part of the executive committee of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, an Orthodox community that fosters discussion of both halakhah and secular policy. As of 2024, she serves as a visiting scholar at the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation.  


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Balinsky Friedman." (Viewed on May 19, 2024) <>.