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Women in Leadership

JOFA advocates for increased opportunities for women in the religious sphere, such as:

  • function as religious, spiritual and halakhic leaders in synagogues and communities

  • assume professional and lay leadership roles in all spheres of communal life-e.g. Orthodox synagogue Presidents, Heads of Day Schools and Chairs of Orthodox organizations

  • teach Talmud and halakha in institutions of higher learning

We applaud the exceptionally capable women who currently serve in key positions within the community and the many more young women who seek to function and succeed as future communal religious leaders. We encourage their aspirations, their religious learning, halakhic commitment, and generous service to the community. The Jewish community will be greatly enriched when women are able to fully utilize their talents and leadership potential.

We assist the individual teachers and rabbis who provide the educational opportunities, mentorships and experiences that form the necessary foundation upon which to build these expanded roles. We also support the schools that foster the concept of women’s leadership and offer opportunities for higher Jewish learning.

We partner with organizations and individuals looking to provide meaningful professional religious and communal training and opportunities for women.

We recognize many members of the Orthodox community do not believe, as we do, that women should be acknowledged as members of the Orthodox clergy. In our view, our differences should be viewed under the rubric of “kol mahloket she’hi le’shem shamayim…,” an argument for the sake of Heaven.

We encourage you, our members and supporters, to join your voice with ours in advocating for expanding both the quality and quantity of meaningful leadership experiences open to women in Orthodox institutions today.

Click here to read JOFA’s letters to the Members of the RCA
Click here to read JOFA's Statement on the RCA Resolution on Women's Communal Roles in Orthodox Jewish Life
Click here to read JOFA's Statement on Mahara"t Sara Hurwitz and Yeshivat Mahara"t
Click here to read Response on Women and Ordination 


Read Reflections from Women Leaders in the JOFA Journal 

Fall 2013:
Leaning In to our Religious and Spiritual Lives

Spring 2008:
What’s in a Title? The Roles of Female Religious Professionals by Rachel Kohl Feingold

Winter 2006: 

Creating New Leaders: Interview with Malke Bina, Founder and director of MaTaN by Rachelle Isserow
Reflections of a Rosh Beit Midrash by Devorah Zlochower
Teaching Gemara: Choices and Challenges by Channa Lockshin Bob
Women and Safrut: Can a Woman Be a Scribe? by Ross Singer
Women and Shechita by Jennifer Breger
Interesting Job Prospects by Erica Brown
Rabbanit Reclaimed by Sara Hurwitz
A Primary Address for Women by Rachelle Sprecher Frankel, Yoetzet Halakha
Kol Isha: A New Voice in the Courtroom by Rivka Lubitch
Congregational Interns: What Does the Future Hold? by Shayna B. Finman
Women in Religious Leadership Today by Rachel Keren


Approaches to Advocacy 


Watch Rabba Sara Hurwitz’s three-pronged approach for supporting women leaders (JOFA Conference Plenary, 2010) 

Read about how board members influence Day School policies and Heads of Schools in The Impact of Lay Leadership on Gender Issues in Jewish Day Schools by Carolyn Hochstadter Dicker (JOFA Journal Summer 2011) 

To Join or Not to Join: Guidelines for Considering Board Membership by Zelda R. Stern (JOFA Journal Winter 2004)

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