The Newly Ordained – Yeshivat Maharat

Yeshivat Maharat Class of '13

Yeshivat Maharat Class of 2013: (L-R) Ruth Balinsky Friedman, Rachel Kohl Finegold, Abby Brown Scheier

Below is the list of the first three graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a New York-based institution training Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halachic authorities:

Ruth Balinsky Friedman is delighted to be joining Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue this August to serve in the position of Maharat. She graduated from Barnard College, and then spent 2 years studying at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. Ruth has planned educational social justice programming through her work at Or Tzedek and Uri L’Tzedek, and taught at a variety of locations in New York and Chicago. As a supporter of dialogue and pluralism, Ruth has participated in the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s Retreat for Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders, the CLAL Rabbis Without Borders student fellowship, and is currently a JCRC Community Connections Fellow. Ruth serves as the Congregational Intern at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and interns at the Center for Jewish Living of the JCC in Manhattan. She lives in Washington Heights with her husband Yoni, where she teaches private chatan and kallah classes.


Rachel Kohl Finegold will be joining Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal as the Director of Education and Spiritual Enrichment. She previously served for six years as the Education & Ritual Director of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. Rachel is a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat, received her B.A. in Religion from Boston University, and completed the Scholars Circle program at the Drisha Institute in New York City. A founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project, Rachel was named one of Chicago’s JUF 36 Under 36. She lives in Montreal with her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, and their two daughters.

Students learning at Yeshivat Maharat. (Courtesy of Yeshivat Maharat)

Students learning at Yeshivat Maharat. (Courtesy of Yeshivat Maharat)

Abby Brown Scheier is a community educator in the larger Montreal community. She holds a degree in Religious Studies and Humanities from York University and pursued an M.A. in Bible at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As a popular Judaic Studies educator in Montreal, she teaches students for conversion, marriage, the International Bible Contest, and Bat Mitzvah. Abby established and serves as principal of a supplementary education Hebrew high school, initiated study sessions for young parents, and opens her home for spiritual gatherings. Abby also teaches weekly Torah classes in her home and at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, the synagogue where her husband, Adam, is the Senior Rabbi. They have four daughters.

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JTA Staff This article was posted by JTA staff.