“…we have merited in our time to see the emergence of women as formidable Torah scholars…,” noted Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter at commencement ceremonies for Yoatzot Halacha graduates from Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center in New York.
Imagine a typical Beit Midrash in Israel full of students noisily discussing Abaya and Rava, arguing over nuances in the Rambam, voices ringing out in the traditional sing-song cadence of past centuries. However, in this study hall the students do not wear the traditional white shirts and dark suits. Instead, they wear multi-colored dresses, skirts and shoes with varying sized heels.
These are the women of Nishmat, pursuing Torah study with a passion for learning, many for the sake of pure learning. Some will teach or enter an array of secular professions. Others will earn certification for a career guiding women regarding Jewish law, marital relations and women’s health.
Founded 27 years ago by Rabbanit Chana Henkin, Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, is a citadel of advanced Torah learning for women. Its objective is to educate and empower young women to be confident and creative Jewish leaders, scholars and professionals. Students, who develop a lifelong passion for Torah study, participate in community service and integrate their university education with religious faith and practice.
Dean Henkin, along with her husband, noted halachic authority Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin, established the position of Yoatzot Halacha, an historic development creating a new role for women in Jewish life. Nishmat’s 100 Yoatzot Halacha (women certified as advisors in Jewish law) practice in Israel, Europe, the U.S. and Canada, enriching quality of life and mitzvah observance for Jewish women, their families and communities. Since they were first certified in 1999, Yoatzot have handled over 300,000 questions from around the world.
Nishmat’s Alisa Flatow International Program welcomes students from across the globe, from beginners to advanced, sharing a deep commitment to Torah, Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people. Americans on gap year benefit from a diversity of faculty and students and an environment that encourages questions. Nishmat’s program for Ethiopian Israelis provides them with skills and confidence to pursue college education. With an amazing 98 percent success rate, some 300 of these young women have become teachers, attorneys, social workers and more.
Nishmat is set to hold its 27th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Sunday, June 4. Serving as Honorary Chairs are Anita and Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, Miriam and Dr. Felix Glaubach, Audrey and Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein and Jeanie and Jay Schottenstein.
Nishmat will honor longtime supporters, pillars of Jewish communal life and Englewood residents Drs. Monique C. & Mordecai D. Katz. They are well known for their involvement in many of Orthodox life’s leading institutions, including Bar-Ilan University in Israel and New York’s Yeshiva University, as well Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital. At Nishmat in Jerusalem, the stunning Dr. Monique C. Katz Campus serves some 300 students with a spacious Beit Midrash, dormitory apartments, classrooms, student lounges and beautiful gardens.
Also being honored at the gala are Yocheved and Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter of Teaneck and Michele and Joseph Romano of Manhattan.
Both Yocheved and Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter are strong supporters of Nishmat’s Yoetzet Halacha program. Rabbi Schacter consults with the U.S. Yoetzet Halacha Fellows of Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center and lectures for its Professional Development Seminars. Yocheved Schacter volunteers as a mental health consultant and guest presenter to Yoatzot Halacha in training and is a member of the Teaneck Yoetzet Committee. They both visit Nishmat in Jerusalem annually, where Rabbi Schacter is a popular guest lecturer for Israeli and American students.
Michele and Joseph Romano are deeply committed to Rabbanit Chana Henkin’s vision of empowering Jewish women to become leaders in the framework of halacha and modern orthodoxy. They were early supporters of Nishmat’s Yoatzot Halacha and provided scholarship assistance to disadvantaged Nishmat students.
This year, The Miriam Glaubach Center Award for Excellence will be presented to The Yoetzet Initiative of Greater Philadelphia & South Jersey, represented by the honorees Alisha and Dr. Jack Abboudi, Yonina and Dr. Zev Jacobson and Becky and Jonathan Moses. The Yoetzet Initiative is an extraordinary grass-roots project, created by families in Bala Cynwyd and surrounding communities, to hire and support the work of Yoatzot Halacha. Tova Warburg Sinensky is the local Yoetzet. Last year, Shoshana Samuels, Teaneck Yoetzet Halacha, received the Glaubach Center Award.
Nishmat has achieved resounding success and women now have unparalleled opportunities to engage in Jewish life and Torah education.
To learn more about Nishmat’s programs, visit www.nishmat.org. Welcome and hear Rabbanit Chana Henkin and Nishmat’s esteemed honorees at the 27th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Sunday, June 4.