Following the controversial decision by Israel’s Attorney General that stated that the Rabbanut must allow women to take the Smicha test, Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) certified Rabbanit Shira Sapir as a “morat hora’ah” and spiritual leader.
According to a statement made by the OTS, Rabbanit Sapir is the ninth woman to have completed the five-year course of studies in OTS’ Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL). In addition to being tested on the regular material in order to attain “semicha”, Sapir took an additional examination on the laws of Geirus. She is the first woman in the program to embrace that track.
In a statement to the press, Ohr Torah Stone’s President and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander congratulated Rabbanit Sapir on her accomplishment. Ohr Torah Stone’s President and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander congratulated Rabbanit Sapir: “Just one week ago we received the good news that Israel will have to open a parallel course of testing halakhic knowledge specifically for women. I hope that these tests will be equal in seriousness to the examinations administered today for men and that they will prove to be the final opening of the gates to spiritual and halakhic leadership by qualified women. The time has come for national recognition of your learning and your labor, for a public seal of approval on your knowledge and skills, and an acknowledgement of your rights to equal pay and employment opportunities.”
Due to coronavirus restrictions, Rabbanit Sapir accepted her certification at a small ceremony in Jerusalem attended by her family, teachers and fellow students. The mother of six from Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion told Arutz Sheva news outlet that the key to developing an attachment to Torah observance is based on being passionate about the subject matter. “When people are not involved and do not feel that the Torah is part of their lives or relevant to them, then apathy develops. The activity, the involvement, the discourse and the shared learning of the public with the Torah is what best preserves it and establishes the strongest connection to our heritage and observance. The privilege of women in our generation to be able to spend our days on the benches of the beit midrash and take part in the ongoing Torah discourse is a central part of the redemption process.”
“We’ve shattered the glass ceiling, but in order to tread on it we still have a lot to accomplish,” Rabbi Brander said. “Women Torah scholars should be better integrated into halakhically-appropriate roles in our study halls and synagogues. We need to continue to push forward to create valuable positions in the IDF, hospitals, and the public sector where they can illustrate and convey the relevance and sensitivity of halakha to greater numbers of people. And perhaps more than anything, the contribution of women scholars is needed in the world of halakhic literature; this is one of the reasons that the WIHL also concentrates on writing, we await the day on which we will be able to fill the bookshelves with the words of women Torah scholars.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)