Yesterday, the opening of Yeshivat Mahara"t, a new training program for Orthodox Jewish women to become spiritual leaders was announced. It's a big step, but women may still be barred from becoming rabbis.
The school was founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York's Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, who is an advocate for the expansion of women's rights in Orthodox Judaism. Earlier this year, Sara Hurwitz completed eight years of training under Weiss and passed her rabbinical ordination exams, just as male rabbinical student would. Even though she has been performing rabbinical duties, she uses the recently-invented title "Maharat" from "Manhiga Hilchatit Ruchanit Toranit," meaning, Jewish legal and spiritual leader and Torah teacher. The brief announcement about the new school only said it will "train women to become Orthodox Spiritual Leaders– full members of the Rabbinic Clergy– in Synagogues, Schools, and on University Campuses."
In an essay about Hurwitz on The Huffington Post, Leora Tanenbaum wrote, "I suppose, 'Maharat' will cease to sound silly and gobbledy-gooky, and we will accept it as a legitimate title. But it will continue to belittle the women who hold it — and, by extension, all women — because it will always signify 'she who is not fit to be called 'rabbi.'"
Breaking News: Yeshivat Mahara"t [Jew School]
A Rabbi Is Not A Rabbi [HuffPo]