Targum Shlishi Awards Grants to Initiatives that Support and Empower Women
(Miami, September 4, 2016)—One of Targum Shlishi’s core areas of giving is support for projects that advance and empower women. Historically for the foundation, this category of giving has spanned a broad range, from initiatives that advocate for the rights of agunot (women whose husbands will not grant them a divorce) to institutions that are ordaining women as Orthodox rabbis.
In particular, Targum Shlishi has long been aligned with the Jewish feminist movement. As Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, notes: “We don’t support Jewish feminist organizations and causes primarily because we think that contemporary Jewish life is unfair and does not offer equal opportunities to women (although we believe this to be true) or because women deserve more recognition that they currently receive (but we also feel this is the case). Instead, we support Jewish feminism because we are convinced that women hold the answer to saving not only Judaism the religion but also to saving the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.” To read some of Aryeh Rubin’s writing about Jewish feminism and view some of the publications that have resulted from this commitment, see the list of links at the end of this press release.
In recent months, Targum Shlishi has supported several notable projects that are geared towards women’s issues. A selection is listed below.
Job Search Support for Women Spiritual Leaders and Scholarly Journal, Yeshivat Maharat
Targum Shlishi has supported several of Yeshivat Maharat’s initiatives, including, most recently, job placement for graduates and its journal. Yeshivat Maharat is the first institution to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halachic authorities. Located in the Bronx, the institution was founded in 2009 by Rabbi Avi Weiss, senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and founder and president of Yeshivah Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. Yeshivat Maharat’s dean is Rabba Sara Hurwitz, who was ordained by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Although there are many institutions that provide a place for women to engage in serious Torah study, Yeshivat Maharat has taken an important further step. Through a rigorous curriculum of Talmud, halachic decision-making, pastoral counseling, and leadership development, the institution’s graduates will assume the responsibility and authority to be poskot (legal arbiters) for the community. Upon completion of Yeshivat Maharat’s four-year program, having served as interns and visiting scholars, each graduate is qualified and equipped as a new kind of leader in the Orthodox community and beyond.
Targum Shlishi provided an innovative grant for Yeshivat Maharat’s 2015 graduates; each student received funds to help them enhance their job search efforts and in addition to promote publicity around the topic of female leadership in the Orthodox community.
Additionally, Targum Shlishi awarded a grant in support of Keren Journal, volume II. This volume of Yeshivat Maharat’s journal explored the halachic and moral implications of the morning blessing “shelo asani isha” (“Blessed are you, Lord…who did not create me a woman.”)
For more information about Yeshivat Maharat, visit its website at http://yeshivatmaharat.org/. For more information about Keren Journal, visit its webpage, where the first two volumes of the journal are downloadable: http://www.yeshivatmaharat.org/keren-journal/.
Get Refusal Solutions Initiative, Beit Hillel
Beit Hillel is a centrist Orthodox organization based in Ra’anana, Israel that promotes an inclusive Judaism that speaks to religious, traditional, and non-observant Jews. The Get Refusal Solutions (GRS) Initiative has a central goal of promoting and supporting the application of halachically valid solutions to get refusal worldwide. The target audience for the GRS efforts includes the Israeli Jewish public, Israeli government policy makers, rabbis, educators, public figures, and community leaders. The goals of the project include:
- Adopting halachically valid, practical, and effective solutions to get refusal, and making them accessible to a broad audience
- Initiating a grassroots educational campaign advocating for universal implementation of the Halachic Pre-Nuptial contract, as well as general moral support for agunot
- Influencing the thinking of central players such as Rabbinical Court judges, rabbis, educators, and community leaders so that they act in a determined manner to achieve a solution
- Building a coalition of rabbinic and lay leaders from Israel and the diaspora that promotes the Halachic Pre-Nuptial Agreement and other solutions, including, if need be, a special international Beit Din for agunot.
To learn more about Beit Hillel, visit its website: http://eng.beithillel.org.il/
Har’el Beit Midrash
Har’el Beit Midrash is a recently established rabbinic studies program in Israel for men and women. In June 2015 the institution granted Orthodox rabbinic ordination to its first group of students, comprising two men and two women. Targum Shlishi awarded a grant to the program for its 2015–16 academic year, during which twenty-two men and women were enrolled. Har’el’s program is designed to inspire and prepare tomorrow’s communal leaders to serve as agents of change within a context of continuity. The program brings modern sensibilities into the halachic discourse.
Explaining the challenges between commitment to tradition and openness to modernity, Rabbi Herzl Hefter, head of Har’el, notes: “We live lives which embrace Western democratic values such as equality of all peoples and between the sexes…With growing discussions in our ranks about gender, sexual identity, and the question of spiritual passion versus rote observance, we find ourselves at a crucial crossroads…The sacrifice of religious passion is the cost of the divorce of our Judaism from our humanity.”
Har’el describes itself as the only Orthodox framework whose students include seasoned pedagogues as well as promising educators and leaders of the future, men and women, engaged in rabbinic studies in an open and supportive learning environment. To learn more about Har’el Beit Midrash, visit its website: http://www.har-el.org/.
Links to a Selection of Aryeh Rubin’s Writing on Women’s Issues and Modern Orthodoxy
- Article, “Toward a Meaningful Bat Mitzvah: A Father Reflects,” JOFA Journal (2010)
- Article, “Toward a Kinder, Gentler, More Tolerant and Flexible Orthodoxy,” Conversations (Spring 2008)
- Book, Toward a Meaningful Bat Mitzvah (2002)
- Book Preface, Toward a Meaningful Bat Mitzvah (2002)
- Book Excerpt, “Evolution of Revolution,” Introduction to Chapter Three, “Legal Considerations,” in Toward a Meaningful Bat Mitzvah (2002)
- Simchat Bat brochure produced by the Rubin Family on the occasion of the birth of their youngest daughter, Maya (1996)
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org. Follow Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Aryeh5.