Menu JTA Search

Women Rabbinical Students

There are 12 women rabbinical students in the final year of their Reform studies and two women candidates currently in their final year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) whose ordination next June will bring to 75 the total number of women ordained as rabbis since such ordination began a decade ago, according to an annual Jewish Telegraphic Agency survey.

Twelve women also were ordained as Reform rabbis last May and two as Reconstructionist rabbis last June, according to officials at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Reform seminary, and of the RRC. Those 1982 ceremonies brought to 61 the total number of women rabbis ordained since the first woman rabbi, Sally Preisand, was ordained as a Reform spiritual leader in 1972. The RRC is located in Philadelphia. The HUC-JIR has campuses in New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles.

One unique element of this academic year’s enrollment at the seminaries is that more women –19 — than men — 18 — are studying for the rabbinate at the RRC. A total of 69 women and 120 men are studying for the Reform rabbinate at the HUC-JIR.

A majority of the women rabbis hold posts as assistant rabbis and a few have been advanced to associate rabbis, a generalization that applies to newly ordained male rabbis as well. No woman has achieved the post of senior rabbi at a congregation but, in recent years, a growing number of women have been designated “solo rabbis,” a reference to pulpit positions in congregations which are too small to either need or afford more than one rabbi.

A few of the women rabbis have chosen to take posts as Hillel Foundation rabbis, while others have chosen teaching, administrative and organizational staff jobs.

NEXT STORY