Rachel Kohl Finegold

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Rachel Kohl Finegold is a Maharat for Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

She earned a B.A. in Religion from Boston University and graduated from the Drisha Institute's Scholars Circle.[2] She finished her internship at the National Synagogue.[3] She was a staff member at Camp Nesher in Pennsylvania for a number of years.

She spent six years as Education and Ritual Director at Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel in Chicago, where she held the Dr. Carol Fuchs Kaufman Rabbanit Chair. She was also involved with the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

Maharat Kohl Finegold is on Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Jewish Leadership Advisory Board.[4]

Yeshivat Maharat[edit]

In June 2013 Kohl Finegold was one of the first three women to graduate from Yeshiva Maharat, a four-year program in the Bronx to ordain orthodox women as Maharats, spiritual leaders.[5] Because she self-identifies orthodox, she chooses not to be counted in a minyan, serve as a judge on a bet din, or serve in the role of shaliach tzibor.[1]

Kohl Finegold is married to Rabbi Avi Finegold with whom she has three children.[6]


Kohl Finegold is featured in JOFA’s Mission Statement YouTube video uploaded on November 29 of 2011 saying: “When I’m in a mechitza that’s the balcony and I’m looking down I’m a spectator, doesn’t feel right to me.”[7]

In December 2013 Kohl Finegold attended JOFA’s 8th International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy “It’s For You: Voices For Change” conference and spoke with Ronnie Becher, Dr. Bat-Sheva Marcus, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, and Leah Sarna in the opening plenary “Voices for Change.” [8][9]


On June 20 of 2013 Kohl Finegold published an article entitled "Our Sisters, May We Become Thousands of Myriads: The First Ordination of Yeshivat Maharat" on RavBlog.[10]

In Spring of 2015 Kohl Finegold published an article entitled "The Changing Nature of P’sak in the Twenty-First Century" in The JOFA Journal.[11]

On March 10 of 2014 Kohl Finegold published an article entitled "Fasting for Two: Who Makes the Call?" on The Torch of My Jewish Learning.[12]

On Being a "Rabbi"[edit]

In an interview with Talia bat Pessi[13] for her blog "Star of Davida"[14] Kohl Finegold says, "I’m not actually a rabbi - it’s a male role in Orthodoxy, and I have no desire to be a man. Women should express leadership in feminine way, since there are blatant differences in Judaism between men and women. I just want to be leader - that’s who I am. Being a rebbetzin is just being an extension of my husband - it’s not about me, it’s about him, and who I chose to marry isn’t my career path. I’m not angry, but talking to a lot of older women of previous generations, I see that they had to really fight for the ability to open a Torah or learn Gemara and have women’s tefilla(prayer) groups, but no one ever told me no. I didn’t lain (read from the Torah) at my bat mitzvah, but I got to speak in front of the shul (synagogue) - the tone is very different for me and my age bracket. I grew up in eighties and nineties and it’s evidence - I didn’t fight. A lot of women sound angry, but we have nothing to be angry about, and it’s important to realize that. We’re not trying making a statement by entering Jewish leadership, we’re just being who we are."[15]


  1. ^ a b Bronis, Leeor (December 24, 2013). "The Orthodox Madame Rabbi". Women in the World. The Daily Beast.
  2. ^ Berger, Sarah. "Meet the Maharats: Questions for Rachel Kohl Finegold". Moment.
  3. ^ Arnold, Janice (April 12, 2013). "Montreal Orthodox shul hires first female clergy". The Canadian Jewish News.
  4. ^ "Leadership".
  5. ^ Maharat is an acronym for "manhigah hilchatit ruchanit Toranit"
  6. ^ "Rachel Kohl Finegold". 2012 Double Chai in the Chi. Oy!Chicago. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  7. ^ "JOFA Mission".
  8. ^ "JOFA 2013 Conference" (PDF).
  9. ^ "JOFA 2013".
  10. ^ "Rav Blog".
  11. ^ Kohl Finegold, Rachel (Spring 2015). "The Changing Nature of P'sak in the Twenty-First Century" (PDF). The JOFA Journal. 13 (1).
  12. ^ "My Jewish Learning".
  13. ^ "Talia Bat Pessi".
  14. ^ "Star of Davida".
  15. ^ "Interview with Kohl Finegold".