Ruth Balinsky Friedman

Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue | Washington, DC | 31 years old
Orthodox | Yeshivat Maharat

After Belda Lindenbaum — champion of women’s Torah scholarship — passed away, Ruth delivered a passionate, gratitude-filled eulogy from the bimah. My young daughter, who learns with Ruth weekly, turned to me and asked, “Why is it such a big deal for girls to learn Torah?” With enormous pride at the chutzpah of the question, I could answer simply, “It’s not.” One of the first women to be ordained as a legal, spiritual and talmudic congregational leader, Ruth changed what it means to be an Orthodox female in our community. She is any girl’s role model and a testament to women’s equality in the beit midrash and in the eyes of God. For my daughter, learning, leading and teaching Torah as a female will always simply be taken for granted. There is no more glass ceiling for our daughters (and sons!) to witness in the sanctuary. Women’s spirituality has an equal place, equal voice, equal understanding. Maharat Ruth brings wisdom well beyond her years to the pulpit. She teaches Torah as a woman to women AND MEN, and that is absolutely invaluable.

— Ariele Mortkowitz

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