This just in:
In a step that marks a major change in gender roles within modern Orthodoxy, women will be ordained as Orthodox rabbis.
Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, founded by Rabbi David Hartman, himself a modern Orthodox rabbi, will open a four-year program next year to prepare women and men of all denominations – Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and also Orthodox – for rabbinic ordination.
Ordination will be provided within the framework of a teacher-training program that prepares graduates to serve in Jewish high schools in North America.
“For too long now we have been robbing ourselves of 50 percent of our potential leaders; people who can shape and inspire others,” said Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the institute and son of David Hartman.
“The classic distinctions between men and women are no longer relevant. People who come to the Hartman Institute to study are committed to making gender equality in Judaism a reality.”
Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David, perhaps the first woman ever to receive Orthodox ordination (from a private rabbi, Aryeh Strikovsky, on Pessah eve 2006), said she hoped what she termed Hartman’s rabbi-educator program would be “the first step toward full rabbinic ordination for Orthodox women.”
She asserted that the Hartman Institute was “stopping short” of “calling them rabbis” and said this was “annoying.” But, she added, “perhaps it is a political decision to start off with a half-title so as not to be too controversial and only later to give women the full title of rabbi.
“As people get used to seeing women in these positions they will open up to the idea of female rabbis,” said Ner-David.
Ner-David, who has a doctorate in Jewish Studies from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, said she hoped female rabbis would transform the entire rabbinic institution.
“Women’s voices are changing the way we practice Judaism. Ordination of female rabbis will not only bring these voices to the forefront, it will also change the way men serve as rabbis,” she said.