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    Women rabbis – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I read that a modern orthodox rabbi in New York is ready to ordain an orthodox woman but is worried about calling her “rabbi”.* Why is this a problem?

    Shabbat Candles, lithograph by Sandu Liberman

    A. There are many orthodox women today with a high level of rabbinic knowledge. Few are clamouring to be called rabbis though they may be learned enough.

    Of those who do want a title, the question is their motivation: whether they sincerely wish to serve God and the Torah, or if they wish to make a statement and show they are as good as men.

    Some modern orthodox congregations have women carrying out pastoral and educational functions without a rabbinic title, but is there an appropriate title? “Rabbi” is masculine. Medieval authorities call a woman scholar a rabbanit, but this has come to mean a rabbi’s wife.

    See also: Women as spiritual leaders

    * This article first appeared in 2009.

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