Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) on Thursday announced that he will appoint twenty-one women as halakhic (relating to Jewish law) advisers in communities across Israel in 2022.
Women have increasingly assumed active roles as certified experts of Jewish religious law throughout Israel in recent years, specifically in delicate areas traditionally associated with women such as “family purity.”
Deputy Minister Kahana’s move will see these female advisers officially recognized by the Religious Services Ministry for the first time, and as such be eligible for state-funded salaries alongside communal pulpit rabbis.
Kahana said: “Today it is clear to all that learned women are integral to Jewish communal life and halakhic discourse. Female halakhic advisers already serve in critical roles around Israel and the time has come for the State of Israel to celebrate this reality.”
“I am confident that this important step will only serve to bolster Jewish life and scholarship and I encourage more communities to follow suit.”
In response to queries from Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, a spokesperson for Kahana explained that the halakhic advisers in question are "yoatzot halakha" trained by Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women.
"Yoatzot Halachah programs are offered in a number of midrashot and seminaries, most notably at Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. Their positions will be to give Halachic advice to women in fields where they have received training, such as taharat hamishpacha (family purity), within the communities in which they have been appointed to serve. Much like communal rabbis in Israel, they will go through testing to assess their knowledge and expertise."
He further clarified, "Yoatzot function within communities around Israel, specifically around issues of family purity. As of today, Deputy Minister Kahana is recognizing this reality, subsidizing their activity, and encouraging other communities to join. "