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Naming Is Powerful

The Kolech Religious Women’s Forum in Jerusalem has chosen the official Hebrew title for a female rabbi: rabba. They did consider “Maharat,” the title recently given to Sara Hurwitz, who completed full rabbinic training in New York. But “rabba,” which is literally the female equivalent of the Hebrew word rabbi, is the term officially submitted to the Hebrew Language Academy in Israel.

“What does one call a woman dean in Hebrew, or for that matter a woman rabbi? Feminine endings can confuse or reclaim status, masculine ones empower and provoke. Harav (masculine) Hadekanit (feminine) hopes to do all the above!”

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, appointed Dean at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. Her title in Hebrew will be, indeed, “Harav Hadekanit.”