15 women blaze trail in Halacha education

The Religious Services Ministry has recognized 15 women for their participation in Jewish leadership roles

 Standing and on the floor are the women who took the exam. In the middle row, heads of Ohr Torah Stone and Matan Sharon (photo credit: JARED BERNSTEIN)
Standing and on the floor are the women who took the exam. In the middle row, heads of Ohr Torah Stone and Matan Sharon
(photo credit: JARED BERNSTEIN)

In a historic first, 15 women received recognition from the Religious Services Ministry for their successful completion of the first-ever government-administered exam in Halacha (Jewish law).

Highlighting the increasing participation of women in Jewish leadership roles, 11 women from Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halachic Leadership (WIHL), and four from Matan Hasharon, were presented with their certification at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Sunday.

The ceremony, held at Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum, was attended by National Missions Minister Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party) and former religious affairs minister Matan Kahana. WIHL is an unparalleled five-year, full-time learning initiative training qualified women scholars in an expansive curriculum of advanced Talmud and Halacha studies.

Response to the recognition

President and Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander told the women: “You serve as trailblazers for the next generation in enabling a new paradigm of female Torah scholars. This remarkable achievement represents a breakthrough for women in Jewish leadership, making Halacha more accessible to women and the community, which will benefit both you as leaders and educators and the community as a whole.”

"“You serve as trailblazers for the next generation in enabling a new paradigm of female Torah scholars. This remarkable achievement represents a breakthrough for women in Jewish leadership, making Halacha more accessible to women and the community, which will benefit both you as leaders and educators and the community as a whole."

Rabbi  Dr. Kenneth Brander

Rabbanit Devorah Evron, director of the WIHL added, “we take immeasurable pride in this achievement because it both enables women to be treated with professional respect alongside their male colleagues but most significantly it shows that the State of Israel, as the spiritual heartland of the Jewish people, has officially recognized women’s Torah study and our breadth of halachic knowledge.” Evron said that “this will be sure to strengthen our national Jewish identity.”

 MK Orit Struk attends a protest against the demolition of structures in the illegal outpost of Homesh, outside the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 9, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Orit Struk attends a protest against the demolition of structures in the illegal outpost of Homesh, outside the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 9, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Struck said, “witnessing women so deeply committed to Torah study is a moment well worth celebrating. You and all who are working towards the advancement of women’s Torah study deserve to be commended and encouraged.”

Kahana, who in his ministerial role in the prior government spearheaded this development, said, “my prayer is that this trend will only continue to expand. While we faced considerable opposition to get to this moment, my hope is that this will serve as a historic foot in the door and that we will witness the further development of this revolution, which is critical for the Jewish people.”

Tikvah Sapirah, a WIHL fellow who passed the exam and spoke at the ceremony added that “while the many dignitaries here have been thanked, I want to thank my fellow students here in the Beit Hamidrash as we felt your support all along the way.”