Second female rabba to be ordained

The Academy of Jewish Religion, a pluralistic rabbinical school in Riverdale, N.Y., is set to ordain a second woman under the title “rabba.” The ceremony for Kaya Stern-Kaufman, 47, will occur Thursday, May 12, the New York Jewish Week reported.

Her ordination comes a year after Rabbi Avi Weiss, who heads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in the Bronx, conferred the title rabba on Sara Hurwitz, who serves the congregation.

A month after ordaining Hurwitz, Weiss calmed critics  by saying he would no longer ordain women with the title rabba. Weiss is not affiliated with the Academy of Jewish Religion.

Stern-Kaufman, of Great Barrington, Mass., previously worked as a clinical social worker, a feng shui consultant in architecture and as a part-time Jewish educator. She is following seven generations of Orthodox rabbis in her family, the Jewish Week reported.

Some of the previous year’s female graduates of the Academy of Jewish Religion had asked to graduate with the title rabba, but “we needed time to study it and consider the ramifications,” Ora Horn Prouser, executive vice president and dean of the academy, told the Jewish Week.

Stern-Kaufman is one of seven women to be graduating from the academy this year, but the only one who will be receiving the rabba title. — jta