Gilah Kletenik

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Gilah Kletenik
Kletenik, 2013
Nationality American
Occupation Congregational Scholar

Gilah Kletenik is a Jewish American scholar and religious leader.


Kletenik is an erstwhile congregational scholar at the Modern Orthodox Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun[1] on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. During her tenure at Kehilath Jeshurun, which concluded in 2014, Kletenik was among a few Orthodox women worldwide functioning as religious leaders.[2] Kletenik has been a vocal advocate of advancing women as rabbis and clergy, notably suggesting as much in a public sermon.[3] She has written about this position, which has been deemed controversial,[4] in the Huffington Post.[5] Kletenik has also written on political affairs, which she considers through a philosophical lens, most recently opining on ISIS in 3:AM Magazine.[6] Working towards a more egalitarian Jewish leadership landscape, she is also a founder of the Orthodox Women’s Leadership Project.[7]

The broader Jewish community has recognized her efforts. She is one of The Jewish Week’s “36 under 36”,[8] an inaugural recipient of The Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize,[9] and a Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellow.[10]

Kletenik was the first female high-school-level Talmud teacher at the Ramaz School[11] and has advocated for equality in Jewish learning.[12] Kletenik has lectured and taught at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah,[13] Mechon Hadar, JOFA,[14] and the Drisha Institute.[15]

Kletenik interned on Capitol Hill for Congressman Gary Ackerman.[16]

In 2013, she was exhibited at the Jewish Museum Berlin in their controversial exhibit Jew in the Box.[17][18]

In 2014, Kletenik was included on the list "radical Jews you really need to know." [19]


Kletenik grew up in Seattle, Washington, where she attended the Seattle Hebrew Academy and later Northwest Yeshiva High School, from which she graduated in 2005.[20]

She studied at Migdal Oz (seminary) of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel, and graduated summa cum laude from the Honors Program at Stern College for Women in 2009.[21] As a student leader, in response to the Agriprocessors meat scandal, she organized a controversial panel on ethics and the laws of Kashrut.[22] Kletenik subsequently suggested that the foundation of the biblical laws of kosher are essentially ethical, that "the earth is not yours to plunder." [23] Her Senior Honors Thesis was entitled To Judge or Not Judge: Women's Eligibility to Serve as Judges: an Exploration of the Biblical, Tannaitic, Amoraic and Tosafist Literature.[24]

In 2011, Kletenik earned a Master of Arts degree in Biblical and Talmudic Interpretation from the Graduate Program for Women in Talmud at Yeshiva University. While at Yeshiva she was one of the leaders of the Social Justice Society of Yeshiva University, which The Forward called part of "a boom in Orthodox social activism among the young."[25]

She also studied Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.[26]

Kletenik is presently a doctoral candidate in the Hebrew and Judaic Studies Department at New York University.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Kletenik is the daughter of Moshe Kletenik and Rivy Poupko Kletenik.[28] She is the granddaughter of Baruch Poupko.


  1. ^ Congregation Kehilath Yeshurun Synagogue Office Directory
  2. ^ Elisheva Goldberg (May 8, 2013). "Why It's Wrong To Reject Women Rabbis". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ Gilah Kletenik. "The Feminine Critique: What of Jewish Leadership?" (PDF). Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Alan Brill (March 5, 2012). "New Potential Group of Orthodox Female Clergy – graduates of the GPATS". The Book of Doctrines and Opinions: Notes on Jewish Theology and Spirituality. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ Gilah Kletenik (March 5, 2012). "Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ Gilah Kletenik (March 7, 2015). "Sounding out the Idols: Images, Ideology and Isis". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Stories". Orthodox Leadership Project. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ Amy Spiro (June 15, 2010). "Gilah Kletenik, 23 | Orthodox Jewish Educator". The Jewish Week. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Inaugural Pomegranate Prize Recognizes Five Promising Jewish Educators". The Covenant Foundation. November 6, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Welcome to Class 26 of the Graduate Fellowship Program". The Wexner Foundation. June 4, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ Joel Magalnick (November 10, 2011). "Seattleites win education prize". The Jewish Sound. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Gilah Kletenik (November 19, 2009). "Give Unto Us a Possession among the Brethren of Our Father: Separate is Not Equal". IDEAS Institute for Jewish Learning and Ideals. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Yeshivat Maharat Winter Learning Program 2012 [1]
  14. ^ JOFA Conference 2013 (December 8, 2013). "Gilah Kletenik | Passing the Baton: Models of Young Women Leaders". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Faculty and Guest Lecturers". The Drisha Institute. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ Diana Brement (September 7, 2007). "Examining politics from the inside". The Jewish Sound. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  17. ^ Jewish Museum Berlin (March 22 – September 1, 2013). "Special Exhibitions | THE WHOLE TRUTH … everything you always wanted to know about Jews". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Rivy Poupko Kletenik (August 26, 2013). "Thinking outside the box". The Jewish Sound. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  19. ^ Levi Tazir (September 10, 2014). "And here are even more radical Jews we completely forgot to mention last time". Jewdas: Radical Voices for the Alternative Diaspora. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ Diana Brement (September 7, 2007). "Examining politics from the inside". The Jewish Sound. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Stories". Orthodox Leadership Project. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  22. ^ Paul Vitello (October 8, 2008). "Label Says Kosher; Ethics Suggest Otherwise". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ Anna Goren (September 24, 2014). "Kosher Meets Hipster". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  24. ^ Kletenik, Gilah. [2]. Yeshiva University, Stern College for Women. S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, 2009.
  25. ^ Michael Orbach (March 6, 2009). "Social Activism, Modern Orthodox-Style - A Younger Generation Takes Steps To Change Larger World". The Forward. p. 1. 
  26. ^ "AWP Orthodox Leaders Cohort". AWP: Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. February 23, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ JOFA Conference 2013 (December 8, 2013). "Gilah Kletenik | Passing the Baton: Models of Young Women Leaders". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  28. ^ Florangela Davila (November 12, 1997). "The Pull of the Reign". Seattle Times. p. A1. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Rosenstein, Neil. The Unbroken Chain. Lakewood, NJ: CIS, 1990, p. 294.

External links[edit]