This past year was a good one for Orthodox Jewish feminists, and the years ahead hold great promise. Last June, Yeshivat Maharat, which ordains women as spiritual leaders and religious authorities, graduated its first three “maharats,” as they are called. (“Maharat” is a Hebrew acronym for “manhiga hilchatit ruchanit toranit,” a female legal, spiritual and Torah leader.) More than 500 people, from all branches of Judaism, turned out for the ceremony in New York. In December, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) held its eighth international conference, attended by more than 1,000 people in an atmosphere of exuberance and optimism.
Maharot will perform virtually all the same pastoral and spiritual functions as male rabbis, plus some.
Zelda R. Stern and Elana Maryles Sztokman
Special To The Jewish Week
Orthodox women are making history in front of our eyes. On June 16, three women will be ordained to serve, in effect, as Orthodox rabbis, given the title of Maharat (an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters).
As a member of the New York University community for nine years, recently as an NYU Law School Tikvah post-doctoral scholar and previously as an NYU JLIC educator, Michelle Sarna was gratified when Shalhevet, NYU’s Orthodox student group, elected its first female president four years ago – succeeded by three more female presidents.
To be a Jewish musician is easy, says Matthew Lazar, but to be a Jew and a musician is sometimes difficult
Nevertheless he has overcome many hurdles over the years as he guided the world-renowned coeducational Zamir Chorale as its director and conductor — in an age when modern Orthodox Jewish sensibilities shifted fundamentally to the right.
Zamir Chorale was founded by Stanley Sperber in 1960. He made aliya in 1972 and passed the baton to Lazar.