As one of the two Academy for Jewish Religion graduates from last year who had asked to be ordained with the title of “rabba,” I wish to thank you for bringing to light an important issue in your article (“A New ‘Rabba’ In Riverdale,” April 29).
I would also like to add that one should not equate the title “rabba” bestowed by AJR with the one that Rabbi Avi Weiss bestowed on Sara Hurwitz. AJR, as a pluralistic institute, bestows rabba on the basis of what is now approved to be grammatically correct in the Hebrew language. As the semicha [ordination] document states for women rabbis, “rav u’morah b’Israel,” it has been noted that in Hebrew, “rabba u’morah b’Israel” would be more appropriate from a grammatical standpoint, and that many Masorti and Reform female rabbis in Israel are using this term.
AJR has been ordaining rabbis for the last 55 years, with a semicha that is not affiliated with any movement.
AJR has no intention to replace the English title “rabbi”’ for female students with “rabba,” but gives the option of replacing the Hebrew term “rav” with “rabba.”