Avi Weiss Set To Ordain Three Women as “Maharats” This Sunday

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avi-weissThis Sunday, June 16, three women will be “ordained” as Orthodox rabbis at the inaugural graduation ceremony of Yeshivat Maharat, founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss, who also established the Open Orthodox Chovevei Torah in Riverdale, NY, as Tablet Magazine reports.

Yeshivat Maharat claims that its female graduates will not be granted the title of “rabbi.” Instead Ruth Balinsky Friedman, Rachel Kohl Finegold and Abby Brown Scheier will instead receive the title of “maharat,” which stands for manhiga hilchatit ruchanit toranit.

Avi Weiss is following the path of the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements, which have ordained women since 1972.

Sara Hurwitz, the dean of Yeshivat Maharat, was the first Orthodox woman to be ordained in the United States, also by Weiss. In 2009, Hurwitz received semichah from Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Sperber administered the semicha exam to next week’s “graduates.”

At first, Hurwitz received the title maharat, but Weiss changed her title to rabbah. That March, the Rabbinical Council of America issued a statement about discussions that members of the RCA had with Weiss: “We are gratified that during the course of these conversations Rabbi Weiss concluded that neither he nor Yeshivat Maharat would ordain women as rabbis and that Yeshivat Maharat will not confer the title of ‘rabba’ on graduates of their program.”

Hurwitz continues to use the title of rabba, nevertheless.

On May 7 of this year the RCA reissued its 2010 statement: “We cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.”

But these “graduates” have already been hired.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., recently hired Balinsky Friedman.

Rabbi Adam Scheier of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim of Montreal – and husband of soon-to-be maharat Abby Brown Scheier – recently hired Kohl Finegold.

As Tablet reports, Scheier got some flak for a speech he delivered on Shavuos about hiring Kohl Finegold, in which he stated, “We are unapologetically Orthodox, and we are unapologetically modern. … This is a not a break from tradition. If you look closely enough, the women have been there all along. It’s just now that we’re recognizing their presence, and it’s just now that we’re stepping aside just a little bit to create a place for that voice to be heard in our Beit Midrash, from our pulpit, and from the other areas of Jewish life which are not halakhically limited to men, but have been traditionally perceived as the domain of men.”

Rabbi Hyim Schafner of Beis Abraham in St. Louis recently hired Picker Neiss. Read Tablet‘s full report here.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Why publicize all this depressing garbage over and over? My son is making a siyum mesechta this week. THAT’S good news worth publishing!

  2. Another churban.
    People will probably say that we are not allowed to criticize Avi Weiss, right? They’ll probably call Matzav baalei lashon hara, right?

    Thanks Matzav for once again being the only voice of the world of Torah Jews on the internet. .

  3. it is very “halachah’cly” wrong 4 a woman 2 b a “rabbi” maybe its not explicitly written in the torah but u can understand that it is 4 tznius reasons,

  4. Avi Weiss is to be feared by the civilized society and should be disavowed by all Torah Societies. His relic of organized ways for the maharat are the enemy of true Justice. Never Again.

  5. To Mr Churban, There is a big difference between criticizing and demeaning. Most of the people on Matzav do not know the difference.

  6. It is a joke.

    Look who hires them. A familiar cast of characters.

    Rabbi Herzfeld from DC, who has advocated legalization of toeivah ‘marriage’, in the press and via his Rabbinical position.

    Rabbi Schafner of STL, who recently had a toeivah sensitization Shabbat at his congregation.

    Rabbi Scheier of Montreal, who recently attended the installation of a toeivah clergywoman at a Reform temple (http://www.bill613.com/opinion/opinion-shaar-hashomayim-congregation/).

    May Hashem save us from such leadership, which takes direction from the liberal surrounding society.

  7. and i thought that women are not supposed to learn Torah she-balpe. at least that`s what is written in messechet Sotah.

  8. You should clarify something from the article. You make it seem as though he RCA, while saying it does not accept women as Rabbis, still allowed their hiring. The RCA had NOTHING to do with their jobs, and it does not recognize their ordination.

  9. I will say that you get a bargain when you hire a maharat. You two last names for the price of one.

    Isn’t it uncanny how each has a hyphenated last name? Like Rodham-Clinton. Or Hurwitz-Weiss.

  10. How about a report on the cicadas that are coming…this will affect all of us…the above news story has zero relevance to your oilam…in other words, WHO CARES about Avi Weiss & the woman ordinations; pure shtuss!

  11. What a shame, then they ask us why the third temple is not here ,why mashiach is not coming and why the jews are having much difficulties. There is one reason women rabbah , women completely off the wall!!!!! Well these 4 rabbis might just have a huge cheshbone to give shortly to ribono shel olam and it wont pleasant for them and there president backing them up . Time for techouva pal !! Ur gehinom is getting hotter by the second!!!

  12. Look who has hired a women rabbah (LOL) to assist him, look who has assisted to a reform rabbi nomination, look who gave him spouse a permission to be rabbah , look whos speeches not dvar torah are starting to turn sour and reform, look whos having the RCA and all the shuls talking about him. Oh my gosh it AD u wanted to make a mark in this world oh !! You made one a really bad one hope you can leave with it cause your taken ur shaar hashamayim shul with you in deep trouble it took big time year to get ur head out of the water but now in ur 7 years u have drowned it again in the deep sea, hope u swim to dry land g..d will save you!!

  13. In labs they test Rats to see if they survive. Likewise Harav Avi Weiss is testing Maha Rats to see how long they survive. I”d give it a very short time. Next experiment. “Galachim”

  14. Please note that this issue is not a joke these 4 rabbis that have given the permission to these 4 women of being as they call it a rabba. How they respective presidents and members allow them take such a move is very scary. When will they do techouva when is mashiach coming ??? Answer not soon . In montreal the shaar hashamayim took years to get respectable and hinorable even though they are the oldest shul, its getting lost in a blink of eye and the credibility is down the drain. You still have time to cancel this nomination and make teshouva.

  15. Although women in leadership is not needed in the more Chareidi world, can some of you more open minded readers accept that in more modern circles, women are needed in positions of leadership. If in societies frum, shomer shabbos women are doctors, lawyers, CEOs, they can expect their Torah leadership to also include knowledgeable Torah educated, intelligent women. They don’t need to be called Rabbis, but why shouldn’t they be as knowledgeable in Yiddishkeit as they are in their other fields.

  16. OK, Sheldon, I’ll bite.
    That the RCA is disassociating themselves says a lot.
    And if 12 (not a surprise)’s info is correct, the institutions that are hiring them are on the fringe of Orthodoxy. I think that even the most chareidi-type of us will reaffirm everyone’s humanity, feel compassion for the conflicts people have in reconciling their desires with wanting to live a halachic life and within the community. But if 12 is true, that’s enough to give people pause, besides the whole can of worms called ordaining women.

  17. Weiss is following the step-by-step instructions of the reform movement. He probably thinks he is starting a new movement, such as conservadox, etc. Let’s call a spade a spade. EWeiss is reform. Period.

  18. Why this fascination with Avi Weiss’s antics? A macha was made a few years ago and that should be it. As far as anyone here in Lakewood is concerned, this news falls into the category of “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make noise?”

  19. Jack Rubin,
    I hear you and agree that Jewish women can be leaders.. I see them every day. Jewish women leaders isn’t an old concept.

    However….. I think 99% of us can agree that they shouldn’t be ‘ordained’. Makes no sense.

    They already make hugely positive impacts on us all… they need ‘smichah’ to muck it all up.

  20. 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.


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