More Orthodox Women as Rabbis (We Could Get Used to This!)

L–R: Fruchter, Smith, Thomas-Newborn.

L–R: Fruchter, Smith, Thomas-Newborn.

On June 2, three women — Hadas (Dasi) Fruchter, Ramie Smith and Alissa Thomas-Newborn — were ordained by Yeshivat Maharat as Orthodox clergy. This brings to 14 the total number of women able to serve in almost every capacity in which a male Orthodox rabbi does. 

While a student, Dasi Fruchter told Lilith about the challenges of self-presentation:

I seek to be among the Jewish leaders whose leadership lends itself to radical shifts in power structures and to creating more expansive and inclusive communal and ritual spaces. Given the enormity of this work and my passion for doing it well, I seek to bring the entire expression of myself  not a compromised or compartmentalized version of me  to all of my pursuits. 

The thought of ducking into the bathroom to wipe off the lipstick I wore to my non-profit board meeting before I go to teach Jewish texts is troubling to me. We live in an era when Orthodox women are finally studying to be members of clergy, which, in and of itself, is wildly radical. It seems like this era should also be able to accommodate a broad diversity of women committed to this risky work — women who have loud voices and wear bright colors, women who are comfortable with who they are and what they bring.”


From “Rabbis in Red Lipstick,” on the Lilith Blog, February 20, 2013.