Silence Across the Frum World as Two More Women at Avi Weiss’ Yeshivat Maharat to Be Ordained as “Rabbas”


????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The churban continues.

Two more women “ordained” as rabbis this week will be called “rabba,” the term fabricated by Open Orthodox leader Avi Weiss as a female form of “rabbi.”

Rachel Berkovits and Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy will be joining the only woman who had the title until now, Sara Hurwitz, who is on the staff of Avi Weiss’ Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York.

Berkovits and Hammer-Kossoy received “semichah” this week from Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber and Rabbi Herzl Hefter, founding head of the Har’el center, which has a co-ed semichah program.

Six other women will receive semichah at Yeshivat Maharat in New York on Sunday, but they won’t be called “rabbas.”

The gedolei hador across the spectrum have long said that semichah is not to be granted to women. Avi Weiss and his cohorts at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat have ignored the directives of the leading gedolim for years. And their actions have taken place with almost no protest from within the frum community. Other than the American Yated Ne’eman newspaper in print and the news website online – which have both regularly highlighted the activities of YCT, Yeshivat Maharat, Avi Weiss and others –  the frum world has been asleep at the wheel as Weiss and others wreak havoc with the long-held traditions of Orthodox Judaism. There is virtually no word of protest from organizations or individuals.

The “rabba” debacle began in 2009 when Hurwitz was ordained by Avi Weiss, who, at the time, was weakly condemned by some, including the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, which threatened to stop recognizing his conversions to Judaism. Weiss ignored it all and continued to ordain women. Over the last four years, to change things up, Weiss has given the title of “maharat” rather than “rabba.”

Weiss engages in semantics when applying these names. In truth, none of it matters when he is essentially granting the women semichah.

Every year, Yeshivat Maharat in Manhattan ordains its graduates as maharats, but this year’s six graduates have opted for the title rabba. Three of the six– Dr. Anat Sharbat, Avital Engelberg and Yaffa Epstein – are Israelis.

{Gavriel Newscenter}


  1. The silence is not surprising. We do not make a stink when female Conservative or Reform clerics are ordained, and these posh’im fall into the same category.

  2. Churban? come on now. Crying wolf at everything we disagree with will ensure no one listens when there is a real major problem.

  3. The silence, the lack of protest ,the lack of condemnation from the frum community is alarming .
    Who are they afraid off ? Silence equals encouragement, by not reacting the main stream Judaism shows fear .A vehement protest should be organized in unison and Cherem instituted immediately.

  4. what a joke. I called my pet cat a rabbi and everyone ignored me. And on Sunday I am calling my rabbit a rabbi just to freshen things up. Why would we give valuable press to buffoons?

  5. Why not hit a guy while he is down. Rav Avi lost his father last week and is just getting up from Shiva. I am sure he has more to deal with than the sick hatred you and your minions contineu to spew at him. It would show tremendous Kavod Ha’ brius to take down this attack on him while he is morning the loss of his father.

  6. We should all boycott organizations that promote Avi Weiss, starting with the newspaper where he is a regular columnist.

  7. Matzav is being very short sited in constantly over reporting this. They are not really different than conservative jews. By constantly putting them in the news you are legitimizing them, becuase its only “big” news if they are really orthodox, but hey look what they’r doing! But they are conservative . Period.

  8. Silence is golden – better not to say anything, and stir up the hornest nest of for or against – If there is comment it may create sinas chinum etc – by saying nothing it speaks volumes.

  9. i agree with #9. this is not torah judaism and we should ignore all of it. part of their success is in the sensationalism.when their ‘pranks’ are written about people discuss them. if no one was paying attention to them, they will have no effect

  10. > “…the frum world has been asleep at the wheel …”

    >> Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, shlit”a, has been speaking and writing about Open Orthodoxy’s transgressions a great deal. He has spearheaded the campaign to expose the OO leadership’s dangerous path away from the halacha and mesorah. Because he’s from the RCA wing of Orthodoxy does that make him not frum? needs to give recognition where it is due: at the doorstop of Rabbi Gordimer.

  11. You say everyone has been silent. That is incorrect.

    The RCA issued a statement saying that it is firmly against the ordination of women. They also do not recognize the ordination from YCT as legitimate, and will not admit these graduates as RCA members.

    I’ve heard a few different Rabbonim speak out against it in their drashos on Shabbos. So they’re not writing it up? Big deal. There’s more of a chance their kehillah will listen to their drasha in shul than read a letter that’s been printed up.

    True, there hasn’t been the constant attacking that the Yated has done. That’s because they just don’t view them as that important. Speaking about them all the time just brings it attention, which is better off avoided.

  12. Where are the Leadership of today DEMANDING unbending adherence to an identical position ( as Conservative or Reform clerics) viz-a viz these Open Reformodox , come what may, e.g forbidding walking into a shul where any OO ministers,refusing to attend weddings,etc. ???

    The problem starts at the top

    IN 1956 The gedolei hador declared emphatically Conservatives are a different religion , though something obvious today, took courage and bravery .

    They then stood by it , facing years of assaults , demanding that anyone who desires to be associated with them must adhere to their postion

    #1 #5 #9 #10
    Whether or not your small crowd or town discusses this , in the bigger world the impact of these continuing travesties loom large

    They [ ,gangsters as they are,] are shrewdly aware that ‘facts on the ground’ create a fait accompli,for the avg. chevra who are outside your small crowd or town

  13. A churban? really??? This is what you classify as a churban.

    . Enough with the rhetoric. I might not agree with weiss. but You and I know they didn’t do anything that can excommunicate them otherwise they would be excommunicated. Conservative wasnt banned because of only women rabbis it was banned because it had secular none rabbinic people directly dictatating and interfering in the r.a.’s halachic processes.

  14. So they are called rabba. big whoop. When they call them “RABBIS” then blow the horn! Maybe decry the honorific bestowed on the wifes of rabbis “rebetzins”.

  15. To Simcha (number 7)
    Such a coincidence that the week before “Rav”Avi goes knowingly against halacha and gives smichah to women he gets a warning. Vilamalshinim al tehiy tikvah.

    • I doubt she was studying to be a Maharat — or even Modern — at the time. It seems that she started off “heimish” — going to Bais Yaakov High School and then teaching in Chassidish schools — before becoming what she is today.

  16. Avraham, his father was a great man who was zoche to see banim, b’nei banim and b’neihem. He, like his son, did more for Judaism, both in America and Eretz Yisrael than you and your hate filled minions can eevr dream of.

  17. Simcha, I’m not saying that another Jew deserved to die chas v’shalom. However, I’m sure that you heard the stories of Rabonim who refused money from those who openly did aveiros. Now I’ll be honest I don’t know of any contributions he has made (though i’ll leave that to my lack of knowledge. I doubt that your lying, and I cannot argue on which I do not know. I do hope however, that your not talking about contributions like the “yeshiva” mentioned above.). All that aside, he is displaying an open opposition to Maimonides, who I’m sure made much more contributions to Judaism then he.

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