Avi Weiss Set To Ordain Three Women as ‘Maharats’ This Sunday


aviwAs he has done in the past, Rabbi Avi Weiss will once again be ordaining women as “Orthodox rabbis”, who will be given the title “Maharat”.

Weiss is following in the path of the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements, which have been ordaining women since 1972.

As YWN reported in 2010, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of America condemned Rabbi Weiss in a public statement, and said that any congregation with a woman in a rabbinical position of any sort cannot be considered Orthodox.

The following is a press release sent to YWN about the upcoming graduation ceremony:

Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to train Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic (Jewish law) authorities will host their 1st ever graduation ceremony this Sunday, June 16th at Ramaz Upper School, 60 east 78th Street, New York City beginning at 11am. A reception will follow (at 12:15pm).

This is the 1st class of graduates, marking the 1st time that orthodox Jewish women have been ordained as clergy. Gradates have undergone thorough training, passed rigorous tests, and are prepared to assume the responsibility and authority to be poskot (legal arbiters) for the community. Maharat is a Hebrew acronym for Manhiga Hilkhatit Rukhanit Toranit, one who is teacher of Jewish law and spirituality.

The women have each studied the Same Course of Training and Study as Men, and have studied the Jewish Torah at advanced levels for years.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber, and Rabbi Jeff Fox, will be signing the ordination documents. There will be Jewish communal leaders and Orthodox Jewish Rabbis present at the graduation. The women will receive diplomas receiving “ordination as clergy.” The language on their certificate will note they have been ordained as a “Decisor of Jewish Law for the Community”

They are full spiritual, communal, halakhic authorities, just like their male counterparts.

All Women have Jobs for the Coming Year.
All of the women will be employed as clergy for Orthodox synagogues and institutions.
· Rachel Kohl Finegold will be serving as clergy at Montreal’s Congregation Shaar Hashomayim with Rabbi Adam Scheier

· Ruth Balinsky Friedman will be serving as clergy at Ohev Sholom- The National Synagogue, in DC. with Rabbi Herzfeld.

· Abby Brown Scheier will be a principal of a small Hebrew school, as well as teaching children and adults in the Montreal community.

· Rori Picker Neiss will be completing her fourth year of Yeshivat Maharat while serving as clergy at Bais Abraham Congregation in St Louis. With Rabbi Hyim Shafner.

Each graduate will use the title of Maharat.

Graduation will take place on Sunday June 16th at Ramaz Upper School, 60 east 78th Street, New York City beginning at 11am. A reception will follow (at 12:15pm)

(Press Release / YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. Isn’t he also in favor of toeiva? And I wouldn’t be surprised if he also favors conscripting yeshiva students Israel and banning Torah-intensive school curricula.

    In which case, why does YWN consider him part enough of our community to discuss him?

  2. #2- If the gedolim issued a public statement, why should this not be publicized?
    find something else to do then write pathetic comments

  3. Thanks YWN for bringing this to our attention.

    Ah prusta shtick koifer, this Weiss fellow is.

    Prancing around as an Orthodox Rabbi, when he is anything but that.

  4. Ah niguun for the graduates:

    Siman tov uh mazel tov uh mazel tov uh siman tov,
    Siman tov uh mazel tov uh mazel tov uh siman tov,
    Siman tov uh mazel tov uh mazel tov uh siman tov,
    Yihei laaaanuuuuu….

    Yihei laaaanu yihei laaanuuuu…ulichol yisroel,
    Yihei laaaaanu yihei laaaaaanuuu….ulichol yisroel,

    Everyone (women too) join along with me now!

    Yihei laaaaanu yihei laaaaaanuuu….ulichol yisroel,
    Yihei laaaaanu yihei laaaaaanuuu….ulichol yisroel.

    Round of applause to our new rabbonim.

    Any questions?

    Yes I have one:

    Somewhat noyge’ah to tayruvos, we’re doing the sugyah of kli rishon kli sheini in Shabbos 40b. Do you happen to have anything to add about tasa’ah gavar by a davar lach with another davar lach if its mevashel kdei klipah or if we say that it just becomes me’urav?

    Our nidon is bishul so I’m not sure how much shaychis it has with tayruvos really, but we’re about to jump into a long tosfos that discusses iruy and how he bases it on the machlokes of tasa’a gavar or ila’ah gavar. Also a little bit noyge’ah to the sugyah before that of ambati and kois according to Rashi.

    Anyway just looking for some background on tasa’ah gavar by a lach b’lach. Might not help me for bishul since your doing tayruvos but just thought I’d try.

    Looking forward to your response.

  5. As Bob Grant, famous radio talk show host used to say “The world is sick and getting sicker”! How sad that we so called frum Jews stoop so low and go against Torah values.

  6. Well this is what he will be remembered for, not all the good things he did for Soviet Jewry. He has brought Orthodox Jewry to a new level this isnt modern Orthodox this is pure simple Conservative Judaism.Call it what you want; a frum women maybe allowed to do certain things in regard to community work but not what he trains his students to do

  7. #8: You might not want to try and ask questions like that to them. You might be surprised. I’ve heard that they actually do know their stuff! We don’t say they’re not allowed to be ordained because they don’t know halacha. If that was the argument, it wouldn’t work out well.

    The fact is that we don’t allow it because that’s not our mesorah. The RCA put out their statement and was then quiet. They don’t bother giving any publicity to Avi Weiss – to do so shows that you take him seriously. Just ignore their graduation!

  8. I’m not saying I support this, but is there any reason a woman can’t pasken halacha? I was under the impression they can, and if so, the title of Rabbi (or Maharat or whatever) doesn’t do anything because their education (and not their title) would determine whether they can pasken.

  9. We shouldn’t be to hard on these women being it’s pretty clear that they have mental issues. Their either getting “Semchah” for one or two reasons.
    They either want validation for their own personal issues with Judaism or
    their doing it simply for money and prestige.

  10. I think Avi Weiss should stop being a faker and call them what he really wants to, “Rabbis”. He’s just scared of the backlash and is trying to use a more toned down title so that he can “claim” that he is not ordaining them as “Rabbis”. This is the affect of Western Culture (aka. Hellenism) on weak minded Jews. Instead of following in the ways of Rebbetzin Kneyivsky, z”l or lhbhl”h Rebbetzin Twersky, these ladies will be showing guile and chutzpa instead of modesty and true inner beauty. This will only bring yaridas to those that follow them. Very Sad! 🙁

  11. A certain (sfardi) Rav in a certain city, gave his drasha about this 2 shabbosos ago. He said, “If these women are declaring themselves Orthodox Jews, then on behalf of myself and this entire kehilla, I now proclaim us all Chassidish”

  12. Rabbi Saul Lieberman, Rosh Yeshiva or Dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary for over 40 years, was displeased with women participation in synagogue services.

    In 1979, he ruled against ordination of women rabbis at JTS and the seminary respected his wishes until his death in 1983.

    His responsum regarding women rabbis concludes with:

    “The end of the matter is that it is clear from the sources that being called by the title Rabbi reflects on the fitness to issue legal decisions and to judge, and we should not empty the title Rabbi of its meaning from the way it has been understood by the Jewish people throughout the generations. Since a woman is not fit to judge, and she cannot become qualified for this, she cannot be ordained by this title (even if we see it as a mere expression, refer to the Tosafot, Avodah Zarah 5a, paragraph heading “Ella”).

    Let us not make ourselves objects of derision and jest.

    Saul Lieberman

    I guess the Rabbonim in Avi Weiss’ life that would have made a difference are all gone.

  13. Ei hochi nami they are very intelligent women and probably know more then many charedi male Rabbonim but that is not the point Hashem made them the way they are, female, for a reason. No one says they should be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen, but their are ways they can help Klal Yisroel, and not by being antagonists.

  14. “Can someone explain to me: how could Dvora poskin fot the whole Klal Isroel?”

    3 answers given (I think by Rambam) :

    1) She judged according to prophecy and therefore was above regular halachic processes

    2) She did not judge by herself, but she was the adviser to Bet Din (and they listened to her)

    3) The litigants agreed to have her a binding arbitration. Therefore she was not a dayan.

  15. I think this is about following toras Moshe misinai and our mesora and what’s happening here in my humble opinion is people trying to change the way it had been for thousands of years

  16. MDG offers goods answers. I would point out that that answers #2 and #3 fit that maharats well. I imagine that among the reasons Rabbi Weiss is not calling them rabbis is to avoid having them serve on a beis din. And #3 is particularly good — Even our male rabbis today get their power from the fact that their followers accept them in advance.

  17. I’ve checked out of curiousity the supposedly Orthodox synagogue that hired “maharat”. As one can see from Congregation Shaar Hashomayim website, they have music on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Am I missing something?