As 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)