The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is awarding 7 Orthodox Synagogues with Devorah Scholar Grants, an innovative program designed to seed the American landscape with women spiritual leaders. This groundbreaking program was made possible by a donation from the Micah Foundation.


“We are truly happy to pilot this program which will enable communities across North America to benefit from Orthodox women’s leadership and scholarship. We know these communities will be deeply enriched,” said Ann & Jeremy Pava, trustees of the Micah Foundation.

The $20,000 two-year challenge grant has been awarded to Orthodox synagogues seeking to increase paid spiritual leadership positions for Orthodox women. 

The first recipients are: 

Congregation Beth Sholom, Providence, RI
Keneseth Beth Israel, Richmond, VA
Kesher Israel, Washington, DC
Kol Sasson, Skokie, IL
Netivot Shalom, Teaneck, NJ
South Philadelphia Shtiebel, Philadelphia, PA 
United Orthodox Synagogues, Houston, TX

Since 1997, JOFA has been advocating for the development and growth of spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and leadership opportunities for women within the framework of halakha (Jewish law). Pam Scheininger, President of the JOFA board, said: “Hiring Devorah Scholars is an inspiring and ambitious leap forward. We are heartened by the growth and flourishing of women’s spiritual leadership in Orthodox synagogues. Judging by the number of inquiries and applications we received from women and men across the United States, Canada, Israel and Australia, it is clear that there is a demand for women’s leadership roles in Orthodox synagogues around the world.” This year JOFA is funding seven synagogues - up from the original five. This decision was made due to the high quality of the applications that were received. 

“The value added by creating a space for women spiritual leaders who will serve as role models in Orthodox synagogues is incalculable. The positive ripple effects will benefit community members, both young and old for generations to come. Girls can aspire to lead as other synagogues can aspire to emulate this model,” said Daphne Lazar Price, JOFA’s Executive Director. 

Women who will retain the position of a Devorah Scholar will deliver congregational sermons, play an active role in youth and adult education, provide lessons and lectures to the broader community in addition to providing pastoral care and counseling.

For more information contact:

Daphne Lazar Price (212) 679-8500

May 27, 2020
4 Sivan 5780