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Maharat becomes Rabbah

Avi Weiss’ office just issued a statement saying that Sara Hurwitz, who was ordained with the unusual acronym Maharat last year (shorthand for leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters), would henceforth be known as "rabbah."

Here’s the statement in full. 

It is almost a year since Sara Hurwitz was given the title Mahara”t at a conferral ceremony.  I indicated at that time that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our clergy staff.

Over this past year, I have, on numerous occasions, in talks and symposia around the country, said as clearly as I could that Mahara”t means rabbi, and that Sara Hurwitz has received semikha.  Having studied the same curriculum as any man would study for ordination, she has achieved this goal.

We decided when Sara Hurwitz was conferred that we would be assessing whether the title Mahara”t has taken hold in the community.  After a year, what we have seen is that it has gained traction within our own community, at the Bayit.

But outside our community, when Sara Hurwitz has officiated at funerals or visited hospitals or when the title Mahara”t appears in newspapers, it has not resonated.  Moreover, at times the term Mahara”t has been used inappropriately in a disrespectful way.

And so, after consultation with Rabbi Daniel Sperber, who is signing the klaf with me, we have decided that Sara Hurwitz’s title will now be Rabba.  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.

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