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Orthodox institute to ordain women

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The Shalom Hartman Institute will begin ordaining Orthodox women as rabbis.

It is the first Orthodox institution to do so.

The Jerusalem-based institute, which runs Orthodox middle and high schools for boys, will begin accepting women and men of all denominations this fall for a four-year course leading to ordination, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The candidates will receive ordination, or smicha, from the streams to which they belong.

Rabbi Donniel Hartman, co-director of the institute and son of founder Rabbi David Hartman, downplayed the significance of this revolutionary step. He told the Post that the institute was not trying to make a political statement, but was responding to a need for “master educators” in North American Jewish high schools.

Unlike other rabbinic programs, which focus on text study and halacha, or Jewish law, the Hartman program will focus on teaching skills and theory. The title “rabbi” naturally falls to one who is a learned teacher, institute officials say.

Hartman told the Post that the institute has accepted men and women of all denominations since its inception.

“Hartman has been multi-denominational for the last 12 years,” David Hartman said. “We make no distinctions between men and women here. Our latest decision is a natural evolution of our existing policy.”

The first Reform woman rabbi was ordained in 1972, the first Reconstructionist in 1977 and the Conservative movement ordained its first woman in 1983.

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