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New program pays Orthodox synagogues to hire female spiritual leaders

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance offering grants of up to $10,000 a year to synagogues that hire women for newly created positions

Illustrative: Yeshivat Maharat students attend a graduation ceremony in New York, June 17, 2019. (Shulamit Seidler-Feller/Yeshivat Maharat via JTA)
Illustrative: Yeshivat Maharat students attend a graduation ceremony in New York, June 17, 2019. (Shulamit Seidler-Feller/Yeshivat Maharat via JTA)

A new initiative is paying Orthodox synagogues in the United States to hire female spiritual leaders.

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance announced Sunday that it is giving grants of up to $10,000 per year to synagogues that hire women in newly created positions as spiritual leaders.

Synagogues can receive a matching grant equaling half of the money that they commit, meaning that they would have to commit $20,000 to receive the maximum $10,000 grant per year. Synagogues can receive funding for two years.

The funds for the project were donated by Ann and Jeremy Pava of West Hartford, Connecticut.

The ordination of women as rabbis and spiritual leaders is fraught in the Orthodox world.

A decade ago, Yeshivat Maharat opened in New York as the first Orthodox institution in North America to ordain women as clergy members. The institution has faced pushback from many in the establishment Orthodox world, including the Orthodox Union.

The Conservative and Reform movements have been ordaining women as rabbis for decades.

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