“Online Rabbaniot” – A Nashim Magazine Profile of Two WIHL Fellows

Online Rabbaniot Chamutal Shoval and Shira Mirvis are expanding the circles of women’s spiritual leadership and Torah study. They aim to reach everyone in Israeli society who wants to connect to their Jewish roots and study Torah, while serving as resources on wide-ranging issues to Jews of all backgrounds. Chen Gilad | Nashim Magazine | …

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Women Leading the Way in their Communities

Rabbanit Yael Nitzanim

Women Leading the Way in their Communities As COVID-19 changed our lives overnight, creating fear and uncertainty and raising a host of new questions, many people felt a greater need for personal and religious guidance. In this new environment, the halakhic and spiritual leadership role fellows in Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of …

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Online Prayers Bring New Spirit to Synagogues

Rabbanit Chamutal Shoval

Online Prayers Bring New Spirit to Synagogues Women also want to pray and be counted in the synagogue. Prayers over Zoom bring a spirit of partnership and equality Rabbanit Chamutal Shoval is the Anita Perlman Fellow in Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership  Makor Rishon | April 2, 2020 On the …

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“Equal Benefits for Women Studying Gemara”

Request from the Ministry of Social Affairs: “Equal Benefits for Women Studying Gemara” A cheider of their own: women studying Torah at religious institutes are not eligible for the benefits given their female peers in academia, or to men studying in yeshivas | ITIM applied to the Ministry of Social Affairs demanding that women Torah …

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Investing in Orthodox women’s spiritual leadership

visit from the Honey Foundation

Investing in Orthodox women’s spiritual leadership Ohr Torah Stone is pleased to announce that our five-year Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL) has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the Honey Foundation, to advance the impact of women spiritual leaders in Orthodox communities throughout Israel. In keeping with the Honey Foundation’s mission – …

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Annual shiur in memory of Yael Penkower, z”l

Penkower Shiur flier

Penkower Shiur flierOn Monday, March 25, 2019, friends and family of Yael Penkower, z”l, gathered at Midreshet Lindenbaum for the third annual azkara marking her passing.

Yael, z”l, loved Torah learning, and actively participated in and supported initiatives that encouraged women’s Torah scholarship and communal leadership. To perpetuate Yael’s legacy, her family established the Yael Penkower Scholarship Fund in 2016, which enables future leaders of the Jewish community to pursue their studies at Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute for Halakhic Leadership (WIHL).

Third-year WIHL Fellow Mrs. Shira Mirvis, selected by the Penkower family in 2016 as the beneficiary of the Yael Penkower Scholarship Fund, delivered the keynote shiur (in Hebrew; video below).  Mr. Avi Penkower, son of Yael & Prof. Monty Penkower, shared heartfelt remembrances of his mother.  

WIHL Chairman Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner served as the program’s moderator.

Diving into the mikva discussion


In recent years, the topic of mikva (ritual immersion) has changed from a topic which is taboo to one of the most talked about issues in the religious sector, discussed not only in closed quarters but on the social networks as well. Along with the growing interest in the connection between body and soul, discourse …

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Staying Connected

Since taking on the mantle of leadership at OTS, President Rabbi Kenneth Brander has made a priority of remaining engaged with both students and staff, visiting the various institutions and programs to give shiurim, dialogue and answer questions, as well as hosting OTS students – along with his wife, Ruchie –  on a regular basis …

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We must not stand idly by the blood of our women

Devorah Evron

Ohr Torah Stone supported the early-December strike protesting increasing violence against Israeli women. “We have an obligation to better the world and lead the next generation,” explained Rabbi Brander who participated in the Jerusalem rally with other members of OTS leadership. “It is especially important to deal with these topics in our post high school …

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The New Religious Women

Yediot newspaper cover

The New Religious Women by Chen Artzi-Srour  Yediot Aharonot, Shabbat Magazine 23/8/2018 They had been considered an oddity, but what began quietly on social media gave birth to a revolution: religious feminists have evolved into agents of social change.  They speak out against sexual abuse, demand changes in the way the mikveh (ritual bath for …

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Women Assume the Mantle of Leadership

  WOMEN ASSUME THE MANTLE OF LEADERSHIP Women are increasingly being heard and taking on fresh roles in observant Judaism, particularly in Israel – naturally bringing Orthodoxy toward a renaissance. BY SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL –  JUNE 7, 2018 | Jerusalem Post Magazine Women’s voices have been generally missing from the great Jewish discussion that takes part within our …

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WIHL Graduates New Spiritual Leadership

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Rabbanit Amira Raanan (pictured, right) and Rabbanit Navit Zaddik were certified as Manhigot Ruchaniyot and Morot Hora’ah on Wednesday, May 16, by the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL), an advanced 5-year program for female scholars at Midreshet Lindenbaum, under the leadership of Rabbanit Devorah Evron and Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner.

Rabbanit Raanan teaches in advanced Torah institutions including the Jacob Herzog Center, the Be’erot Yitzhak preparatory program, the Ohr Torah Stone hesder Yeshivat Machanaim and teacher training courses, and is also a graduate of the yoetzet halakha track at Nishmat and the Matan Talmudic institute.

Rabbanit Zaddik, mother of nine, holds a BA and a teaching certificate in Education and Judaism. She is a guide for brides, a graduate of the Talmud Torah Institute in Matan, and is involved in educating and leading women in Beit Midrash and preparing the next generation of women studying Torah.


A third WIHL fellow was also recognized at the event: Rabbanit Yael Shimoni, who completed a three-year track and received the title of spiritual leader, is leaving the program to pursue a dream opportunity of establishing a new yeshiva for women.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin told an audience of about 250 people, “I was privileged to administer an oral examination to Rabbaniot Amira and Navit. I assigned the exam a certain amount of time, but in the end I sat with them for three and a half hours and just wanted more. I thank you for making me so happy, this is the best thing that can be, and I thank God, because when we started, there were people who question the idea of giving this recognition to women, but today, in this country, it’s no longer a question.”

OTS Co-Chancellor Rabbi David Stav affirmed: “The Torah was not given to one group, it was given to the entire nation; to men and women. It is only natural to seek within the framework of Torah and tradition that there will also be women involved in the transmission of the Torah tradition. ‘My son, heed the discipline of your father, and do not abandon the teaching of your mother,’ . “Our mothers’ teaching is part of the Torah that we wish to convey in this generation. We are happy that there are women who have decided to dedicate their lives to Torah study, not only to study it but to teach it to the various parts of Israeli society in which we live and work,” Stav said.

In her remarks, WIHL Director Rabbanit Devorah Evron said, “In order for there to be effective leadership which recognizes every man and woman, we must also incorporate our up close knowledge of life experience, what we have learned from others and what we have taught, because only someone who ‘sits within her people’ will be able to truly face the unknown difficulties and challenges she will meet along the way. Women today study Torah and Mishna, Gemara, Agadda and Halakha. The entry of women into the world of Torah compels us to act responsibly. We do not have the privilege of only learning Torah; rather, from the moment we received permission to learn we also took upon ourselves the obligation to act,” she said.

“I came to the WIHL to acquire knowledge of halakha, its practical implementation, and its current rabbinical rulings,” said Zaddik. “But it was no less important to me to enter the realm of beit midrash study and understand the process by which halakhic conclusions are attained. I believe that the Torah was given to us with tremendous wisdom and logic. Only if we immerse ourselves in the world of Torah can we understand the wisdom and logic of this Godly creation,” Zaddik remarked.

“Over the past five years, we have dealt quite a bit with the concept of halakhic rulings (psikat halakha),” noted Raanan. “The dictionary definition of ‘psika‘ is stopping; standing in place. Halakha  means walking, stepping, progressing, moving from one place to another. Ostensibly, this is a contradiction. A person who is required to rule on halakha must both stand in one place while at the same time advancing. A halakhic ruling should be rooted, but not stuck in place. On the one hand, it must keep the tradition of the ‘father’s home,’ and on the other hand it is innovating a new floor in that house. Stopping and walking, at the same time,” she said.

“We do not seek, God Forbid, to uproot the role of the synagogue rabbi or to compromise the tradition of the rabbinate throughout Jewish history,” said incoming OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Kenneth Brander. “On the contrary; our goal is to enable the sea of Talmud to become a part of ‘Torat imecha,’ our mothers’ teachings. Women who are able to encounter and intellectually engage with Ravina and Rav Ashi, Rava and Abaye, Rabbanu Tam, the Ravad and the Rambam.  Women who, with their deep Torah knowledge, can provide guidance to others in all aspects of halakha.

“It is critical for us to realize we are part of an entity known as Am Yisrael, part of a metaphysical unit that requires our individuality to surrender to the mesorah (tradition) of our people and its halakhic framework,” Rabbi Brander continued. “It is this commitment to the halakhic framework that guides our personal and professional goals – including our aspirations to enable women to serve as manhigot ruchaniyot and morot hora’ah; as Torah personalities continuing the legacy of Devorah the Prophetess.  At the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute for Halakhic Leadership, we wish to add a unique light increasing the illumination of Torah to our people: men, women and children as well as to the rest of humanity,” he said. (Read Rabbi Brander’s blog in the Times of Israel, based on the full text of his remarks.)

“The WIHL was founded a decade ago with the mission of training female scholars to take part in the complex and intense halakhic discourse and to provide them with the tools they require to serve institutions and communities of klal Yisrael from a perspective of halakhic and spiritual leadership which is attentive, wise and significant,” summarized WIHL co-Director, Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner. “There is no doubt that this evening, and the success of our new Morot Hora’ah and Spiritual Leaders Rabbaniyot Amira Raanan and Navit Zadik represent an important milestone in fulfilling the vision.”

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