Rabbi Rahel Berkovits
Recently, ESRA Herzliya hosted Rabbi Rahel Berkovits of Jerusalem. She told us, having been educated in Boston in religious schools and yeshivot in America, how she came to love studying Torah, Talmud and Jewish texts. Her grandfather was a well-known and revered rabbi who had written many books on Halacha. After making aliyah, she continued her studies and teaching in Israel and last year, together with another woman and two men, received her Rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Hefter and Rabbi Sperber in Jerusalem. Women within the orthodox community are now allowed to study many subjects, including Halacha, and are employed within religious courts to dispense learned advice.
Rabbi Rahel entertained us most charmingly with lots of stories and quotes from biblical and other sources relating to the importance of women in religious life. She lectures on topics concerning women and Jewish law and is a founding member of Congregation Shirah Hadasha, a progressive halachic minyan, which is enriched by both male and female participation in synagogue ritual.
She has published entries in the “Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia” and is the editor-in-chief and halachic editor of “Ta Shma” and a recently published book, “A Daughter’s Recitation of Mourner’s Kaddish”.
The meeting was well attended by men and women, all of whom enjoyed the interesting and informative talk. There were so many questions that there was insufficient time to answer them all.
We appreciate that Rabbi Berkovits came all the way from Jerusalem to talk to us, and we hope that her example will encourage many others to pursue Jewish knowledge, as a woman's perspective on religion can only be positive.