The JTA reported yesterday that Sara Hurwitz would no longer have the title of Rabba. Hurwitz was ordained as a Mahara”t (Manhigah Hilchatit Ruchanit Toranit, Leader in Law, Spirit, and Torah) by Avi Weiss, the rabbi who leads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the flagship institutions of left-wing Modern Orthodoxy, or Open Orthodoxy. A few weeks ago her title changed to Rabba, a feminized form of Rabbi. According to Weiss, this was to make it clear that Hurwitz is a full member of HIR’s rabbinical staff.
But now, after having been excommunicated by Agudath Israel, and after an uproar from the Rabbinical Council of America, Weiss has agreed, somewhat reluctantly it seems, that Hurwitz will go back to being Mahara”t.
I’ve met and studied with Rabba Hurwitz personally and she is a tremendous teacher. I have heard her cogent, halachic explanation of why it is okay for women to serve in a rabbinic capacity, and I wish her and her future students at Yechivat Mahara”t the best of luck, whatever their title may be.
Oh, wait. What’s that? Halachah doesn’t matter? The Jewish Star reports:
“Tznius isn’t a mode of dress. It includes the idea that women are demeaned and not honored when they’re put in the public eye and put on a pedestal. The position he [Weiss] has created violated the concept,” [Rabbi Avi] Shafran said. Whether the ordination violates a specific halacha (Torah law), is unimportant, he explained.
Right. So it violates some pre-modern sensibilities about where women belong (the kitchen, duh) therefore, halachah has become irrelevant. What is it that orthodoxy Jews are often claiming about Reform Judaism? That they ignore halachah and just do what feels good? Hmmm…
In the Modern Orthodox world, girls attend school and learn all about Torah, halachah, etc.; they go to college; they are free to work and have careers. But the same man who encourages his daughter to go to college may not be willing to listen to a shiur given by a woman.
So again, good luck to Rabba Mahara”t Hurwitz and her future students. I’m going back to bed.