In response to the periodic revelations that some rabbis have abused their positions and taken sexual advantages of females coming for counseling, some rabbis are now refusing to see unaccompanied women, or even a woman with her husband.

As we know, there is a halachik problem in the one on one counseling/meeting of a man and a woman. Officially it is forbidden, but when the situation is for pikuach nefesh, saving a life, medical, certain types of counseling, it is generally permitted. In recent years, there have been women trained in certain halachik (Jewish Law) fields pertaining to women, and they do advise women with all of the authority of a male rabbi. There are also women trained and certified to appear as "religious lawyers" in Batei Din, Jewish Religious Courts.

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It is no longer rare for women to be experts in Talmud, Jewish Law. There are extensive advanced programs for women, giving tests and certificates in institutes such as Matan and Nishmat, both in Jerusalem. Nishmat has a well-known and successful halachik counseling service and hotline for women. And participants in programs like Matan's Beit Medrish are on the level of many male peers from a yeshiva. Over the years, centuries and millenium, there have been female religious leaders, such as the Biblical Miriam, Devora, Chana and more recently the Chassidic Chana Rochel also known as the Maiden of Ludmir.


A number of years ago, davka on the yartzeit of an aunt whose Hebrew name was Chana Rochel, Isramom and I saw a Hebrew-language play based on her story. I think that it is time to distinguish/separate between the rabbinic role in leading prayer from the very different role in deciding Jewish Law and other religious counseling. Just use the simple hebrew term "Yoetzet Hilchatit," translate as "Religious Counselor/Advisor" or something like that. Don't use any word reminiscent of "rabbi" for the position.

Do you have suggestions for a suitable name for women in the field? Why should women feel they must consult with men about personal and religious questions or problems? And why belittle the knowledge of female scholars?

This post was originally published on my personal blog, Shiloh Musings, as If Rabbis aren't Able to Counsel Women, Maybe The Time has Come for Females to get Official Roles http://shilohmusings.blogspot.co.il/2015/07/if-rabbis-arent-able-to-counsel-women.html.

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