Taking it to the Next Level: New Position Created at WIHL
Ohr Torah Stone is delighted to announce the appointment of Rabbi Aviad Sanders to the newly-created position of Director of Career Development and Placement at our Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL).
Rabbi Sanders is a well-respected educator with a longtime connection to Ohr Torah Stone. After studying practical rabbinics and skills for shlichut in the Straus-Amiel emissary training program, he served for three years as the Rosh Beit Midrash at Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield, Michigan, while his wife, Leah, was a Jewish educator. When the family returned to Israel, Rabbi Aviad became a ra”m (rabbi-educator) at the Orot Shaul hesder yeshiva; three years later, he accepted a position as ra”m at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s flagship branch in Jerusalem.
The author of a book on tractate Bava Metzia, Rabbi Sanders is also extensively involved in matters relating to religion and state in Israel as a member of the Beit Hillel and Tzohar rabbinical organizations and as a fellow at the Shaharit institute for the common good. He also served as a moderator for the Areivim zeh La’zeh program, whose mandate is to introduce religious Zionist leadership to various segments of Israeli society. It was in this capacity that Rabbi Sanders led a mission to several Jewish centers in New York and New Jersey last spring. “I believe that the best study of Talmud is one that leads to action, and that Torah must be implemented in reality and connected intrinsically to daily life and the public sphere,” says the father of four.
Strengthening the WIHL’s practical impact
“Until now, WIHL fellows studied a wide and diverse body of halakhic literature over the course of five intensive years, at the end of which they took the same tests that men take with the rabbanut. Our fellows become certified halakhic and spiritual leaders and have the opportunity to play halakhically appropriate roles in the Torah and larger Jewish community,” explains OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander. “The training we offer is both extensive and unique, but we recognize that we must also take it to the next level in terms of professional guidance, internships and employment. Rabbi Sanders, a well-known and esteemed educator, is well-suited to this task.”
For Rabbi Sanders, the new position is the realization of a dream. “I believe with all my heart that Jewish society needs spiritual leadership from both men and women. The public is comprised of both men and women and often when only one gender’s voice is heard, the public’s connection to the Torah is limited. My understanding of the Torah as a man is impaired when I do not have access to the voices of women to help me shape the connection between Torah and the public sphere,” he maintains.
The new position – which was created from funds donated to the “Rabbi Brander Investiture Fund” allowing a series of new initiatives to take root at Ohr Torah Stone – aims to strengthen the practical impact of the WIHL, to open doors and make connections so that graduates can acclimate into leadership positions within the religious public realm. “WIHL alumnae bring to the Jewish world an incredible wealth of serious halakhic knowledge on the highest of levels, coupled with much-needed pedagogic, experiential and pastoral skills,” says Rabbi Sanders. “As with every innovation, there is a need to explain the benefits to society at large and help establish appropriate halakhic opportunities for them to make a positive impact. My role is to help create personal tracks for each of the WIHL’s fellows in accordance with her talents and goals; to raise society’s awareness of these high-level scholars and leaders; and to find the right avenues through which they can share their voices,” he says.
“It is my privilege to work with the WIHL’s director, Rabbanit Devorah Evron; with the Director of Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Israeli Programs, Rabbi Ohad Teharlev; and of course with Rabbi Brander to help advance paths for professional development and placement of our graduates,” continues Rabbi Sanders. “I hope that over the course of the next five years, all of the current 14 fellows will be ensconced in leadership roles within society, and that all incoming fellows will be able to study with the confidence that they will be properly employed inspiring the Jewish future.”