Religion Magazine

The First Female Orthodox Rabbi

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
The first Orthodox female rabbi has been appointed to a shul rabbinate position.
Mazel tov to Rabbi Lila Kagedan who is the first woman bold enough to insist on taking the title "Rabbi" rather than the alternate "Rabba" that a few trailblazers before her have already taken as a "compromise" to not shake the boat too much.
The shul is the Mount Freedom Jewish Center located in Randolph, New Jersey, and self-defines as "open orthodox" - a description that is currently at the heart of an ongoing debate as to its status and its membership under the umbrella of "Orthodox".
The first female Orthodox rabbi
Some might say that by definition the shul must not be orthodox if it hired a female rabbi.
CNN says the Rabbi Kagedan hopes to normalize women in leadership roles. In general I think that it is praiseworthy, though I don't know about specifically in the role of rabbi... Theoretically I don't see any real problem with it, but it would definitely take some getting used to. She won't be able to get shlishi, shishi or the maftir aliyot in shul, and she won't be able to lead services. I see nothing wrong with a woman giving speeches and answering halachic questions and counsel families and individuals under her care. While perhaps the rabbi does not need to get aliyot or lead services to be an effective leader, I am not sure a leader who is curtailed like that can really be effective - just like I would not consider a male rabbi effective if he was a good speaker and had the ability to lead services but had no ability to counsel couples under his care or was not knowledgeable enough to answer halachic questions and give guidance.
Whether this becomes a focal point of a big fight or not, I do think that one day this will be considered a watershed moment in the history of Orthodox Judaism...
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