Israel to hire women as advisers on sensitive issues for the Orthodox community
Women will become advisers to the Israeli government on Jewish law in the Orthodox community, for the first time.
Matan Kahana, the deputy minister of religious services, said in a statement that he would hire the women for “communities across Israel” this year.
The country’s Orthodox establishment resisted the move, but the change spread to the United States.
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Women advisers on halakha, or Jewish law, have flourished across the Atlantic, where there has been demand among women for advice on issues deemed too sensitive to be submitted to a male rabbi.
The rabbinical establishment in Israel has resisted the concept because certification could be considered a form of ordination, which is prohibited for women in almost all Orthodoxy.
Polls in Israel have nevertheless shown that there is a demand for the service among Orthodox women – an institute has been founded in Jerusalem by Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, who died last year, and his wife Chana to train and certify” Yoatzot Halacha”.
Kahana has been criticized by extremists for his efforts to adapt to non-Orthodox and more liberal Orthodox Jewish practices.