Orthodox woman to get title of ‘rabbah’

NEW YORK (JTA) — An Orthodox clergywoman will now be known as "rabba" rather than an acronym that had been created on her behalf. 

Sara Hurwitz, who has been performing rabbinical duties at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City, last year had been given the title of Maharat — a Hebrew acronym that stands for a leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters.  

But in a statement issued Wednesday, Rabbi Avi Weiss, spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute and Hurwitz’s mentor, said the acronym had failed to take hold and that Hurwitz would henceforth be called "rabba," a feminized version of the title "rabbi."

"This will make it clear to everyone that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice," said the statement issued by Weiss’ office.

Hurwitz, who has served at the Hebrew Institute for nearly seven years, has completed the same course of training and examination as male Orthodox rabbinical students. Her curriculum was modeled after that of the male students at the liberal rabbinical school Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale, which Weiss founded and now leads.

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