Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


Why Women Rabbis?

Why Women Rabbis?

More From Sara

In this video

Tagged as

Hurwitz lays out why it's valuable to allow women to be rabbis and how Rabbi Weiss, who ordained her, came to that realization.

Sara's Biography

Cause of Choice: Yeshivat Maharat
Biggest Influence Never Met: The biblical character - Devorah the Prophetess.
First Job:  The Gap
Early Leadership Experience: As an adolescent, she founded the Holocaust Memorial event and programming at her public school in South Florida.

Sara Hurwitz is the first officially ordained “Rabba,” in Orthodox Judaism. She is the Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and the Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, also in Riverdale, New York.
After emigrating with her family from South Africa, she spent her teenage years in Boca Raton, Florida. Her early affinity for religious community life was affirmed when she took a high school vocational test that recommended that she join the clergy. At the time, however, Orthodox women were not allowed to serve as rabbis, so she considered the suggestion impossible.
Yet Hurwitz’s relationship with Judaism continued to grow. During her time as a college student at Barnard College, she helped lead several student Jewish organizations. Soon she began lecturing and teaching at conferences and synagogue meetings throughout the country. After graduation, she was accepted to the Drisha Institute’s Scholar Circle Program in New York City.
Upon completion of her coursework at the Drisha Institute, Hurwitz began studying under the Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York. Over seven years, she received all of the training required of a rabbi, learning how to give spiritual guidance, issue legal rulings, and counsel her congregants. In 2009, Rabbi Weiss officially ordained Hurwitz, giving her the title “Maharat", and later converting it to “Rabba” (a feminized version of rabbi) to more clearly convey her full rabbinic role.
While Hurwitz’s ordainment caused a fierce backlash from some in the Orthodox community, she maintained her title and her leadership position. Seeing the hunger of other women to follow her path to the rabbinate, she helped found to Yeshivat Maharat, an organization whose goal is to train and integrate Orthodox women into the spiritual and halakhic leadership.

Related Videos

Julie Payette
Julie Payette
Astronaut, VP, Canada Lands Company & COO, Montreal Science Centre

Julie Payette was born in Montreal, Quebec, on October 20, 1963. She graduated cum laude from McGill University with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1986, and received her Masters in ...

Ai-jen Poo
Ai-jen Poo
Domestic Worker Advocate

Ai-jen Poo is currently the Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance – an organization that works to empower and organize domestic workers across 19 cities and 11 ...

Yang Liping
Yang Liping
Dance Artist

At a young age, Yang Liping was selected to join an ethnically diverse song and dance troupe dedicated to preserving regional dance traditions. Liping was with this group for ten y...

Laura Cha Shin May-Lung
Laura Cha Shin May-Lung
Former Vice-Chairwoman, China Securities Regulatory Commission

Laura Cha Shin May-Lung grew up in an ordinary, middle-class family in Hong Kong and is the first non-mainlander to serve the Chinese government at the level she did. Throughout he...