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First Woman Orthodox ‘Rabbi’ Is Hired by Synagogue

The first graduate of Yeshivat Maharat to take the title “rabbi” said she has been hired by an unnamed American Orthodox synagogue.

Lila Kagedan, who was ordained this summer by the seminary created by Open Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss to train Orthodox female clergy, told the London-based Jewish Chronicle this week that she was recruited to join the staff of a congregation she declined to name.

Graduates of the New York seminary have so far eschewed taking the title rabbi, though the school is explicit that its mission is to train female Orthodox “clergy.” Most have taken on the title maharat, an acronym that translates roughly to female spiritual leader. Kagedan reportedly is the first graduate to call herself a rabbi.

In the interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Kagedan, a native of Canada, acknowledged that “change is difficult and frightening. We are very much used to a certain aesthetic when we say ‘rabbi.’”

This fall, the Rabbinical Council of America, the main modern Orthodox rabbinical group, formally adopted a policy prohibiting the ordination or hiring of women rabbis.

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