Rabbanit Chana Henkin, who heads the Nishmat Midrasha (institute of Torah study for women) in Jerusalem is to light a torch at the upcoming Israeli Independence Day ceremony.
The Rabbanit is one of the pioneers of Torah study for women. At the midrasha that she founded, women and girls study Torah, and there is program to certify “halakha advisers” in matters of Jewish law. Henkin lost her son Rabbi Eitam and her daughter-in-law Naama Hy”d (may G-d avenge their blood) during a terror attack close to the Jewish community of Itamar in Samaria. The couple were shot dead by terrorists while driving home from an evening with friends. Their four children were in the back of the car and were unharmed.
“The decision to choose me - it’s not for me personally, but what I represent. I represent the world of Torah for women - which is thriving these days, and women are meriting to enter the halls of advanced Torah study here in the holy city of Jerusalem. I think about the generations no longer with us, who drew their strength and inspiration to continue to live as Jews from the Torah of Israel. In the past, women couldn’t approach Torah without an intermediary, and today women’s Torah study and women’s leadership training is taking place right here in the holy city. Our relationship with the past is what gives us the strength to continue to remain within the tradition and go on to the future,” Henkin said.
She said that she does not only represent the world of Torah for women. “I also represent a bereaved family. Two members of our family are not with me today. My son Rabbi Eitam Shimon, my daughter-in-law, who turned 30 several days before she was murdered. But just as the Torah gives strength to continue, so those young people give strength to continue the mission, the building and the action. Because if they are not here, someone must fill their places.”