Sara Hurwitz is an Open 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, and the dean of Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, Bronx, New York.
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Children||Yonah, Zacharya, Davidi and Natan|
|Synagogue||Hebrew Institute of Riverdale|
|Semicha||Rabbi Avi Weiss|
Early life and educationEdit
Sara is married to Joshua Abraham and lives in Riverdale, NY with their four sons.
She went to the Drisha Institute in New York City as part of Drisha's three-year Scholar Circle Program. Drisha is a women's religious studies institution. She has a certificate from Drisha.
Controversy regarding honorific RabbaEdit
In June 2009, Weiss ordained Sara Hurwitz with the title "maharat" (an acronym of manhiga hilkhatit rukhanit Toranit) rather than "Rabbi". In February 2010, Weiss announced that he was changing Maharat to a more familiar-sounding title "Rabba". 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". Weiss announced amidst criticism that the term "Rabba" would not be used anymore for his future students. However, in 2015 Yaffa Epstein was ordained as Rabba by the Yeshivat Maharat, which Weiss founded. Also in 2015, Lila Kagedan was ordained as Rabbi by that same organization, making her their first graduate to take the title Rabbi. Hurwitz continues to use the title Rabba and is considered by some to be the first female Orthodox rabbi.
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.
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.
Hurwitz is featured in Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance's (JOFA) Mission Statement YouTube video uploaded on November 29 of 2011. She is featured saying, "I fell in love. I felt like I was at home (at the first JOFA Conference in 1997). I felt like I was in a community surrounded by like minded people who were passionate about Judaism, passionate about being religious and Orthodox and halacha—but were interested in creating ways for women to have a voice… JOFA is trying to shape the young minds of children, to a gender sensitive curriculum that I worked on many years ago… People in my age range and younger than me are afraid of the word feminism and I get that question all the time, ‘Are you a feminist?’ and my response is, if feminism means creating a more cohesive and inclusive community, then absolutely, I’m a feminist." 
Yeshivat Maharat's Semikha CeremonyEdit
On June 2nd of 2016 Hurwitz delivered the "A Message from the Dean" at Yeshivat Maharat's Semikha Ceremony, hosted at Ramaz Lower School in which she applauds "the loud voices of those who hired our graduates as spiritual leaders, who support our graduates in fulfilling their dreams of serving the Jewish people as Orthodox clergy" and expresses her belief that the graduates: Hadas (Dasi) Fruchter, Ramie Smith, and Alissa Thomas-Newborn, "embody the ethic of optimism."
In 2013 Hurwitz was awarded the Hadassah Foundation Bernice S. Tannenbaum prize.
In 2016 Hurwitz was the Trailblazer Award Recipient at UJA Federation of New York.
Hurwitz was named as one of Jewish Week's 36 Under 36, the Forward50 most influential Jewish leaders, and Newsweek's 50 most influential rabbis.
- "Sara's Story". Yeshivat Maharat. Yeshivat Maharat. 6 July 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24.
- "Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Contact Page". Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- Yeshivat Maharat
- "Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Dean - Yeshivat Maharat". Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- "Speaker's Bureau - Sara Hurwitz". JOFA. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- Eisner, Jane (2009-11-14). "Forward 50, 2009". The Forward. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- Woman Orthodox "Rabbi" Sara Hurwitz, interview on Shalom TV, Mar 8, 2011, http://videos.shalomtv.com/video/woman-orthodox-rabbi-sara-hurwitz-mar-8-2011
- "Faculty and Staff". Yeshivat Maharat. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
- "Yeshivat Maharat".
- Pogrebin, Abigail (July 11, 2010). "The Rabbi and the Rabba". nymag.com. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- "home - Yeshivat Maharat". Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2014-09-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- ""Rabba" Sara Hurwitz Rocks the Orthodox". Heeb Magazine. March 10, 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- Staff. "Do 1 Rabba, 2 Rabbis and 1 Yeshiva = a New Denomination?". Moment Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
- "Class of 2015". Yeshivat Maharat.
- Rabbi Lila Kagedan (25 November 2015). "Why Orthodox Judaism needs female rabbis". The Canadian Jewish News.
- Harris, Ben (March 9, 2010). "Amid Furor, Weiss Backs Away from 'Rabba' Title for Women". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- "The Jewish Chronicle - Classifieds, News, Business, and Events". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- Imber, Elizabeth (December 8, 2010). "Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- "Four First Women Rabbis". Monmouth Reform Temple. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- "JOFA 1997" (PDF).
- "JOFA Mission".
- "Yeshivat Maharat".
- "Yeshivat Maharat" (PDF).
- Barenblat, Rachel (March 10, 2010). "Sara Hurwitz's 'Rabba' Title Sparks Orthodox Jewish Condemnation". Religion Dispatches. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Brown, Elicia; Rosenblatt, Gary (March 16, 2010). "'Rabba' Hurwitz Mulling Retracting New Title". The Jewish Week. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (March 3, 2010). "Woman 'Rabba' Roils Orthodox World". The Forward. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (March 17, 2010). "The First 'Rabba' Is Given a Standing Ovation at Jewish Feminist Conference". The Forward. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Dresner, Stacey (March 4, 2010). "First Orthodox Woman Rabbi is ordained in NY". Jewish Ledger. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Freedman, Samuel G. (July 26, 2013). "A Jewish Pathbreaker Inspired by Her Countryman Mandela". The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
- Harris, Ben (March 3, 2009). "Orthodox Female Rabbi? False Alarm". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Harris, Ben (May 26, 2009). "Orthodox Program Aims to Give Women Rabbinic Training". The Jewish Tribune. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Harris, Ben (March 15, 2010). "Rabba Sara Speaks". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Mark, Jonathan (February 23, 2010). "Rabbis Set To Rumble Over Rabba?". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on 2010-02-27. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Orbach, Michael (March 5, 2010). "RCA, Rabbi Weiss Agree: Todah, No Rabba". The Jewish Star. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Pastor, Kate (November 5, 2009). "Women in Judaism: Jewish Women Come to the Fore in Riverdale". Riverdale Press. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- "Yeshiva to Train Women to 'Function as Rabbis'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. May 21, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- Sztokman, Elana (January 31, 2013). "The Rabba Revolution Continues". The Forward. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- "Rabba Sara Hurwitz addresses the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance conference in New York City" (Video). Jewish Telegraphic Agency. March 14, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010.