Orthodox shul in New Jersey announces hiring of Rabbi Lila Kagedan

Rabbi Lila Kagedan, the first woman ordained by Yeshiva Maharat in New York City to take the title "rabbi." (Courtesy of Yeshivat Maharat)

Rabbi Lila Kagedan, the first woman ordained by Yeshiva Maharat in New York City to take the title “rabbi.” (Courtesy of Yeshivat Maharat)

(JTA) – An Orthodox synagogue in New Jersey has hired Rabbi Lila Kagedan, the first Yeshivat Maharat graduate to go by the title “rabbi.”

Mount Freedom Jewish Center, in Randolph, New Jersey, announced in a news release Monday that Rabbi Kagedan is joining its “spiritual leadership team.” The news release did not use the word “rabbi,” instead referring to her as a “Yeshivat Maharat graduate.”

Rabbi Kagedan, a graduate of Hillel Academy – now the Ottawa Jewish Community School –and Yitzhak Rabin High School in Ottawa, was ordained in June by the New York-based seminary training Orthodox female clergy. Most graduates there have eschewed the title rabbi, opting instead for “maharat” or “rabba.” Rabbi Kagedan announced at a Jewish conference in December that she had accepted a job with an Orthodox American synagogue but declined to identify it.

Mount Freedom Jewish Center describes itself on its website as “open orthodox,” a nascent movement in modern Orthodoxy that believes in greater religious leadership roles for women, among other things.

According to the synagogue’s news release, Rabbi Kagedan’s responsibilities will be “to teach Torah, encourage greater love and celebration of mitzvoth and to provide learning opportunities for adults and children, connect with young families in and around the community and participate in lifecycle and pastoral needs alongside Rabbi Menashe East.”

As of June, Yeshivat Maharat has ordained 11 students. Six are serving in Orthodox synagogues across North America. The remaining five graduates are working at schools, international educational institutions and other community organizations.

In October, the Rabbinical Council of America, America’s main modern Orthodox rabbinical association, voted to ban the hiring of clergywomen by its members.

Click here for an Ottawa Jewish Bulletin interview with Rabbi Lila Kagedan published in the November 23, 2015 edition.

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