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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Twelve new Orthodox women halachic advisers ordained

12 new women halachic advisers ordained
By MATTHEW WAGNER


Twelve new female halachic advisers, ordained in Jerusalem on Wednesday, will help mitigate inhibitions felt by religious women in need of halachic advice on the intimacies of Jewish family purity laws.

These 12 women, the fourth graduating class of halachic advisers produced by Nishmat, a college for higher Jewish learning in Bayit Vagan, are trained to answer the same questions normally directed at a male rabbi. But as women answering questions posed by women these advisers minimize the awkwardness that often accompanies exposing intimate details on, for example, menstruation to a male stranger.

Dean of Nishmat Chana Henkin said that in many cases religious women who were apprehensive about asking a rabbi about family purity laws were needlessly stringent on themselves.

"Women remain separated from their husbands needlessly," said Henkin. "There are quite a few babies in this world that probably never would have been born if our advisers had not helped make the halacha more accessible."

However, Henkin's husband, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, who, together with Rabbi Ya'acov Warhaftig, supervises the fielding of dozens of questions via Internet and a special daily hot-line, said that the advisers are not a substitute for male halachic authority.

"We purposely call them halachic 'advisers' to emphasize their role in citing known, undisputed Jewish law. But none of the women are poskei halacha (halachic authorities). None of them make decisions on new, unprecedented issues in halacha."

He added that "very few men have enough halachic knowledge to make groundbreaking halachic decisions let alone women...But the time will come when women will have the appropriate background necessary to make innovative halachic decisions."

Although Henkin did not admit it, his willingness to accept the possibility of a female halachic authority equal to men, even in theory, is a radical idea not just in haredi circles. Even many religious Zionist rabbis would be opposed to a female rabbi deciding precedent-making questions in halacha.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, admittedly a conservative though widely respected religious Zionist halachic authority, announced several years ago that any man who learns Torah from a woman should be pitied.

In the meantime, rabbis Warhaftig and Henkin answer the tough questions. Chana Henkin said that six to eight questions are fielded daily on Nishmat's Internet site [www.yoatzot.org] and over the past five years about 50,000 questions have been answered on Nishmat's Golda Koschitzky Women's Halachic Hotline.

Rabbi Henkin said that during their two-year course of studies female halachic advisers cover all of the studies demanded by the Israeli Rabbinate for rabbinic ordination.

But unlike the men, the women are required to study physiology, anatomy and certain medical issues such as the effect of birth control on the body and fertility problems.

"We also require women to learn basic psychology, sexology and counseling," Rabbi Henkin said.

Henkin does not rule out the possibility that additional fields of halachic will be taught to women. "We've thought about opening a course to teach women the halachot of kashrut. But it is still in the planning stages," he said.

Ira and Charlotte Green sponsored Wednesday evening's ordination ceremony for the new advisers who will join the other 28 who have already been trained. Other major supporters of the program include Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein and Moshael, Zahava and Bethia Straus. Dr. Norman Lamm, former rector of Yeshiva University, is an academic adviser to Nishmat.

27 Comments:

Anonymous sechel said...

and the next Godol will be?

Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Rebbetzin........?

Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger tipsonrelationships said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, October 28, 2005 1:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know God really doean't like you. Gods gonna HURT YOU!

Go Satmar

WOOOOOOOOOOO!

Friday, October 28, 2005 2:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UOJ,

It is not clear where you stand on this issue.

Friday, October 28, 2005 3:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's clear where uoj stands. He admires a good cholent (made by men).

Friday, October 28, 2005 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous yaakov said...

The Jews have had women in leadership positions over the millenia.

There is no reason why we shoudn't allow them this sacred undertaking. Many of my friends are afraid to seek the advice of a rabbi when confronted with halachic issues.

This can only boost our religious awareness if funneled properly.

Devora,Chanah,Chulda,and Esther are but a few women whom have exemplified that women can lead, and make the right decisions at the right time.

There are plenty of "intelligent" men out there who may disagree.

It's quite clear that they've either never opened a sefer, or that they have a serious complex when it comes to their male ego.

Friday, October 28, 2005 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

I am in favor of women being involved in assisting rabbonim to make the right decisions on sensitive issues like niddah.
I am NOT in favor of this leading to me one day to walk into shul and hear a Shabbos Hagodol drasha from a female rabbi.
STRICTLY because I'm a traditionalist, NOT because women are in any way inferior....

Friday, October 28, 2005 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Water & Fire said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, October 28, 2005 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UOJ is honest. He knows there are some exceptional women who know more than he, including some BJJ graduates who know more than anyone can imagine.

Yet, unless they're modest, Rabbi Schachter's charge of yuhara rings true.

Orthomom's shabbs shuva derasha, incidentally, was pretty good.

Friday, October 28, 2005 2:30:00 PM  
Anonymous harvey said...

Yaakov,Esther was a whore, is that your idea of a woman leader?

Friday, October 28, 2005 6:59:00 PM  
Blogger clicking4man said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 6:32:00 AM  
Blogger Casino online said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Casino online said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 6:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out schmuckyschumer.com

Saturday, October 29, 2005 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not want to hear a shabbes tshuva drasha from a woman who is on the rag.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:18:00 AM  
Anonymous yaakov said...

harvey;

I suggest you check your sources.

Monday, October 31, 2005 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

harvey knows better. He's a scientist.

Monday, October 31, 2005 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what does a rector do?

build?

Monday, October 31, 2005 9:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... minimize the awkwardness that often accompanies exposing intimate details on, for example, menstruation to a male stranger."

I find this totally disingenuous. 95% of modern Orthodox and Dati Leumi women have no problem with revealing much more intimate information to male OB/GYNs, not to mention exposing their body physically.

This reminds me of the argument that women feel disgusted when men use their mikvah -- even if the men make sure to keep it clean. Of course, these same women have no problem going mixed swimming at the same time as men!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 1:44:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

They are "probably" referring to the other 5%.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Sleep-Deprived said...

When can we get one of these women to move to MD? It would be more tznius for women to deal with women and to take the males out of the equation.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

You have talented and smart women in MD.,tell them to take off their chains and get to work.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

take off their chains?

come now.

They are frum and not interested in being halakhists/rabbis, competition for uoj.

There is no competition from any of the women I know.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"... minimize the awkwardness that often accompanies exposing intimate details on, for example, menstruation to a male stranger."

I find this totally disingenuous. 95% of modern Orthodox and Dati Leumi women have no problem with revealing much more intimate information to male OB/GYNs, not to mention exposing their body physically."


And your source is?

As someone who lives in that world, I can tell you that you are a dreamer. (And that's putting it nicely.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 9:50:00 AM  

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