Sara Hurwitz, the first Modern Orthodox woman rabbi ordained in the United States, has worked to help her community grapple with reconciling women’s participation and a strict interpretation of Jewish law. Hurwitz emigrated to America from South Africa with her family at age twelve. Deeply passionate about Jewish learning, she studied in Drisha’s Scholars Circle Program, an intensive three-year course for women, meant to cover the same material as rabbinic ordination. She then began studying under Rabbi Avi Weiss in 2005. In 2009, Weiss helped ordain Hurwitz, and the pair cofounded Yeshivat Maharat, a rabbinical seminary for Orthodox women, later that year. While Hurwitz herself chose the title of “Rabba” (a feminine form of the Hebrew word for rabbi), the uproar in the Orthodox community over the title has resulted in most of the women ordained by Yeshivat Maharat choosing the title “Maharat” (a Hebrew acronym for a female leader of Jewish law, spirituality, and Torah). Hurwitz has also worked for women’s engagement in Orthodox Judaism by creating JOFA’s Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project. She has been honored as one of the Forward 50 and one of Newsweek’s 50 most influential rabbis. As of 2016, Hurwitz serves as dean of Yeshivat Maharat.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sara Hurwitz." (Viewed on January 20, 2021) <https://jwa.org/rabbis/narrators/hurwitz-sara>.