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Ordaining Women as Orthodox Clergy: Hearing from the Students

What is it like to be one of the women enrolled at Yeshivat Maharat, the first yeshiva to ordain women as Orthodox clergy?

“When you know that the very thing that you are doing, albeit groundbreaking or controversial, is important, valuable and necessary for yourself and the community” then you have to keep at it, even when faced with challenges, according to Marianne Novak, a member of Yeshivat Maharat’s class of 2019, who wrote an article on the topic published by the website My Jewish Learning.

Several Yeshivat Maharat students share their thoughts in this short video.

In her article, Novak recalls that she was considering earning a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies to add to her law degree, but her father, a rabbi, encouraged her to apply to Yeshivat Maharat. Of her colleagues who are already ordained, she writes: “They are making a difference in their communities in significant, public ways. They are inspiring communities and by just doing their work, they are changing the perceived paradigm for Jewish women’s spiritual leadership within Orthodoxy. While I am not so naïve to think that there is not still a lot of work to be done, the future is bright and is happening right now.”

Yeshivat Maharat, located in Bronx, New York, was founded in 2009 by Rabbi Avi Weiss and Rabba Sara Hurwitz. So far, forty-four women have enrolled and nineteen women have been ordained.

Targum Shlishi has provided grants for various projects at Yeshivat Maharat, including an initiative to help graduates with job placement and supporting the second volume of its scholarly journal, Keren, which investigates the halakhic and moral implications of the blessing “…Shelo asani ishi” (Blessed are you, Lord…who did not create me a woman.”

Image and video courtesy of Yeshivat Maharat.

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