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Halakha is, at its core, a great and ongoing conversation. While history provides us with salient examples of women scholars entering this conversation, never before has there been systematic training of women to equip them with the rigorous preparation necessary to enter as equals and make their voices heard.
This is not simply a case of a necessary change for the sake of equal opportunity for women. This is primarily a societal imperative to cease depriving ourselves of a reservoir of talented leadership that comprises at least half of the Jewish people.
The Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute for Halakhic Leadership at Midreshet Lindenbaum conducts two intensive, full-time, five-year programs for advanced scholarship in Talmud and Jewish Law:
Morot Hora’ah: Training women in the classic rabbinic curriculum of Kashrut, Shabbat, Family Purity, Mourning, and Marriage. This training is complemented by an extensive curriculum of philosophical, social, and psychological training for communal leadership.
Completion of the course and success in written tests leads to Heter Hora’ah – the centuries-old traditional license to issue halakhic rulings.
Dayanut: Advanced training program launched in 2013 for women who have completed the heter hora’ah program, equipping them with the knowledge base to serve as judges for conversion and divorce. For the first time since Devorah served as a judge, Jewish history will once again see women trained for the task, and their very presence will restore – and ensure the preservation of – women’s rights in areas of personal status.
Students in the Dayanut track can also take courses in the Monica Dennis Goldberg School for Women Advocates; after two years they will be certified to practice advocacy in the rabbinical courts.