welcome to maharat!
At every graduation, each graduate walks under a banner fulfilling the dream of: אֲחֹתֵנוּ אַתְּ, הֲיִי לְאַלְפֵי רְבָבָה Our sister - May you grow into a multitude (Bereishit 24:60). Revava, according to one midrash is a doubling of the word rov--implying not just more, but many many more- tens of thousands more. Multitudes. (Midrash Torat Kohanim, see Rashi on Lev. 14:49). In another midrash (Midrash Aggadah 24:60:2) Revava references נשיאי ישראל, leaders of Israel. Taken together, this pasuk is a hope, a dream, that Rivka, and all her tens and thousands of descendants, will become leaders. This vision has come to fruition.
A little more than ten years ago, when Maharat was a nascent idea, a fleeting dream, only a handful of Orthodox women were looked to as spiritual leaders; ten years ago, some believed that Orthodox women in clergy might destroy the fabric of the Orthodox community. Just a decade ago, women’s Torah scholarship and ritual involvement was relegated to the women’s section. Today, with first one, then three more, then six, and now 34 graduates serving the Jewish people, Revava- multitudes becoming leaders, has become a reality.
As each graduate walks underneath that banner, with her semikha,
she assumes the mantle of leadership. Today, women have become part of the fabric of not only the beit midrash, but also the bimah, the classroom, hospitals and funeral chapels; they are authors of piskei halakha and heads of religious institutions. Revava also brings to mind that Maharat graduates have impacted tens of thousand of Jews, teaching Torah in over 50 communities world wide. As I look towards the next decade, the vision of
אֲחֹתֵנוּ אַתְּ, הֲיִי לְאַלְפֵי רְבָבָה
“Our sister - May you grow into a multitude”
I see a community that celebrates multitudes of people who have been impacted by female clergy; a world where men and women will shape our communal conversations, creating a 21st century Judaism that is relevant, dynamic, and inclusive.
We hope you will join us as we enter our next decade, and celebrate
With warmest regards,
Rabba Sara Hurwitz