The Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL) at Midreshet Lindenbaum is delighted to announce that Rabbanit Devorah Evron is joining the program in a directorial capacity, effective September 1, 2017.
A graduate of the Halakha Program for Women at Beit Morasha, Evron passed with distinction the exams in all realms of Jewish law (the same tests which WIHL fellows – and male rabbinical students – are required to take). She is an internationally regarded scholar with proven experience in administration, organization, innovation, resource development and the operation of several educational and research projects. Most recently, as Director of the Elga Stulman Women’s Institute for Jewish Studies, a position she will be leaving at the end of the summer.
Evron’s rich professional background, which includes working as a certified psychodrama therapist, is complemented by a lifetime of active involvement in the Orthodox community, in the religious-feminist world, and in Israeli society at large.
“The WIHL is the only program in Israel which provides women with all the practical and educational tools necessary to completely immerse themselves, on a full-time basis, in the study of halakhic literature, becoming fluent in the language of halakha and attaining heter horaah [certification providing license to rule on matters of Jewish law],” says Evron. “My goal is to continue to nurture and cultivate the program’s fellows toward this goal; to strengthen the connection between the pastoral skill components of the program and the halakhic components in order to build effective spiritual leadership for the Jewish community.” To this end, in addition to her directorial duties, Evron will teach a class in Jewish law as well as being a regular presence in the beit midrash.
Evron’s plans for the WIHL’s future also include expanding the search for professional career opportunities for graduates. “The idea is to complement the Israeli spiritual leadership which currently exists, not to replace it,” she says. “There are communities which are already aware of the fact that female leadership is lacking, and we will identify other potential niches as well including schools, pre-army preparatory programs, the military, prison services, hospitals and more.”
Finally, Evron’s vision includes reaching out and forging partnerships with similar programs of higher Torah learning for women. “We may not all be identical in our curricula or approach, but we share the same dilemmas and can provide one another with strength and support,” she says. This sense of sisterhood will bring with it a pragmatic facet as well, relates Evron: “If we band together, we will wield greater power and accomplish more. For example, male rabbinical students receive funding from the Ministry of Religion, students in liberal streams receive funding from the Ministry of Culture, but Orthodox women who are engaged in full time study fall through the cracks. If we turn to lawmakers together, we will represent a force through which to effect real change,” she asserts.
Evron, who made Aliya from the USA at the age of seven, lives with her family in the northern community of Mitzpe Netofa, where she teaches Talmud and Daf Yomi (the “daily page”).”I am an advocate of halakha and of Orthodox women’s advancement in the fullest sense,” she states. “I believe in the eternal Torah, and I believe that halakha is always relevant, a source of guidance which is in constant dialogue with reality. The fact that the voices of half the population which can contribute to the halakhic discourse of the Torah world have not been heard in previous years results from historical and educational processes,” she says. “It is not an unalterable fate.”
Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner, who has untiringly directed the WIHL over the past five years with persistence and devotion, will continue to work alongside Evron for the next two years, allowing for a smooth transition and continuity. “With Rabbanit Evron at the helm of the WIHL, I foresee a huge leap forward in furthering the vision of female halakhic leadership in general, and the WIHL in particular,” he says.