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Sara Hurwitz, Don’t Accept the Title ‘Maharat’

As one of the first women to receive private Orthodox rabbinic ordination, I was disheartened to hear Maharat Sara Hurwitz give up her title of “Rabba” (the female version of “Rabbi” chosen by the Academy of the Hebrew Language). In a speech she gave recently at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance conference, she said that if the title would cause a rift in the Orthodox community and maybe even lead her own community to be called “Conservative” rather than Orthodox, she would be willing to forego the title.

For Hurwitz, what matters most is that women are acting as clergy and will be “confirmed” as “Maharat” in the Orthodox world. And perhaps that will have to be enough for now.

Hurwitz did present the other hand. She admitted that as a “Rabba” she would be able to do her job better, that people tend to have a better understanding of what her role is when she uses that title. What she did not mention was that using Maharat instead of Rabba perpetuates sexual discrimination.

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