New women halakhic leaders certified
Five graduates of the Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership received certificates of halakhic and spiritual leadership. WIHL Director Rabbanit Devorah Evron: “Each of them is an exemplary model for our generation.”
Orly Harari, June 8, 2023
In a further display of the increasing role of women in positions of Orthodox Jewish leadership, five additional women were certified as halakhic and spiritual leaders by the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halachic Leadership (WIHL). Rabbanit Yaffa Aranoff, Rabbanit Aluma Florsheim Dor, Rabbanit Ravit Kalech, Rabbanit Tikva Spira and Rabbanit Moriah Taasan Michaeli all successfully completed the grueling course of study in the intensive, five-year Ohr Torah Stone program.
The graduates passed exams on halakha and demonstrated a high level of proficiency in a wide range of topics with a focus on areas associated with communal leadership such as the laws of Shabbat, kashrut, family purity, marriage and divorce, bereavement and more. In addition to being trained to adjudicate on halakhic questions, WIHL students are also trained in areas of communal leadership and managing personal and family crises.
The new graduates join previous WIHL alumnae who are already providing halakhic and spiritual leadership throughout Israel and the Jewish world.
Ohr Torah Stone President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander saluted the five women, saying “When the sun rises, that’s all you see. But when the moon rises, you can also see the stars. This is your role: to lead and enlighten our people, while also igniting the sparks within others and illuminating the communities around you.”
As each of the graduates spoke at the event they were cheered on by younger students whom they teach and mentor in various settings – an entire busload of Rabbanit Spira’s students travelled from the coastal town of Ashdod to pay tribute. “After so many generations of girls and women who had only male spiritual leaders to turn to on matters of Jewish law, for our generation it is really exciting to have female role models to turn to and also to emulate,” said one.
This was noted by WIHL Director Rabbanit Devorah Evron in her congratulatory remarks: “We are blessed to live in a generation where the number of women learning Torah is on the constant rise. Each and every woman has the potential and the power to become teachers and inspire others to join this important journey.”
“Fifteen years after we launched our program for women’s halakhic study we are witness to five more women being certified for completing the program,” remarked Rabbi Ohad Teharlev, the head of OTS’s Midreshet Lindenbaum women’s seminary, of which the WIHL is a part. “Just this week, a group of male rabbis came together in a room to decide who would be the next Religious Zionist Chief Rabbi, without a single woman involved. What we are commemorating here tonight is our response. May each of these scholars have the strength and wisdom to serve as our leaders in their own right and place,” he said.