Sara Hurwitz

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Not to be confused with Sara Horowitz.
Rabba Sara Hurwitz
Position Rabba
Synagogue Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
Position Dean
Yeshiva Yeshivat Maharat
Personal details
Born Johannesburg, South Africa[1]
Denomination Open Orthodox
Spouse Josh Abraham[1]
Children Yonah, Zacharya and David[1]
Semicha Rabbi Avi Weiss

Sara Hurwitz is a Modern Orthodox Jewish spiritual leader who received ordination from Rabbi Avi Weiss. She is the "Rabba" at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Riverdale, Bronx, New York[2] and the dean of Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, Bronx, New York.[3]

She is the curricular researcher and writer for JOFA's Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Hurwitz was born in South Africa.[5] In 1989, Hurwitz moved with her family to Boca Raton, Florida. That year, she was in the eighth grade. [6]

Hurwitz graduated from Barnard College in New York City with a Bachelor of Arts.[1][7]

She was a student at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Talpiot, Israel, a post-high school religious seminary, not degree-granting.[1]

Sara is married to Joshua Abraham and lives in Riverdale, NY with their three sons.

She went to the Drisha Institute in New York City as part of the Scholar Circle Program. Drisha is a women's religious studies institution. She has a certificate from Drisha.[1][7][8]

Hurwitz has a rabbinic degree issued by Rabbi Avi Weiss in a private 5-year study program.[7][8]

Controversy regarding honorific Rabba[edit]

In June 2009, Weiss ordained Sara Hurwitz with the title "Maharat" (an acronym of manhiga hilkhatit rukhanit Toranit[9]) rather than "Rabbi".[5][10] In February 2010, Weiss announced that he was changing Maharat to a more familiar-sounding title "Rabba".[11] The goal of this shift was to clarify Hurwitz's position as a full member of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale rabbinic staff. The change was criticised by both Agudath Yisrael and the Rabbinical Council of America, who called the move "beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism".[12] Weiss announced amidst criticism that the term "Rabba" would not be used anymore for his future students. Hurwitz will continue to use the title Rabba and is considered by some to be the first female Orthodox rabbi.[13] [14][15][16]

Interdenominational meetings[edit]

On December 6, 2010, Hurwitz met for the first time with Sally Priesand, the first Reform female rabbi, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, the first Reconstructionist female rabbi, and Amy Eilberg, the first Conservative female rabbi, at Temple Reyim in Newton, Massachusetts. With a group of about 30 other women rabbis, they lit Hanukkah candles and spoke about their experiences in an open forum.[17]

Priesand, Sasso, Eilberg, and Hurwitz met again on June 3, 2012 at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, New Jersey for a celebration honoring the four first women Jewish spiritual leaders to be ordained in their respective denominations, and the 40th anniversary of Priesand's ordination.[18]


In 2014 Hurwitz received the annual Myrtle Wreath Award from the Southern New Jersey Region of Hadassah.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Sara's Story - Yeshivat Maharat". Yeshivat Maharat website. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Contact Page". Retrieved 13 Dec 2010. 
  3. ^ "About Us - Yeshivat Maharat". Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Speaker's Bureau - Sara Hurwitz". JOFA. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Eisner, Jane (2009-11-14). "Forward 50, 2009". The Forward. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Woman Orthodox "Rabbi" Sara Hurwitz, interview on Shalom TV, Mar 8, 2011,
  7. ^ a b c "Faculty and Staff". Yeshivat Maharat. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  8. ^ a b Pogrebin, Abigail (July 11, 2010). "The Rabbi and the Rabba". Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  9. ^ "home - Yeshivat Maharat". Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ ""Rabba" Sara Hurwitz Rocks the Orthodox". Heeb Magazine. March 10, 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  12. ^ Staff. "Do 1 Rabba, 2 Rabbis and 1 Yeshiva = a New Denomination?". Moment Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ Harris, Ben (March 9, 2010). "Amid Furor, Weiss Backs Away from 'Rabba' Title for Women". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 22, 2010. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Jewish Chronicle - Classifieds, News, Business, and Events". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Imber, Elizabeth (December 8, 2010). "Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Four First Women Rabbis". Monmouth Reform Temple. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  19. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]