From the Jerusalem Post:
The settlement of Efrat will soon have a new Orthodox religious leader to turn to for questions pertaining to religious life and Jewish law, and she is a woman.
In what is perhaps the first appointment of its kind in Israel in the Orthodox world, Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld was recently selected by Efrat’s municipal chief rabbi Shlomo Riskin to serve as a communal spiritual leader for Efrat’s residents who will be able to approach her with questions concerning Jewish law and ask for advice on matters of religious life.
Rosenfeld is currently in the process of completing a five-year ordination course in advanced studies in Jewish law at Midreshet Lindenbaum (מדרשת לינדנבאום). The course also requires graduates to have passed exams comparable to the types of exams men must pass to receive rabbinic ordination.
Midreshet Lindenbaum recently issued the first ever book of Halachic (Jewish law) decisions written by two women, Idit Batov and Anat Novoselsky. Both Batov and Novoselsky had completed this course.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Rosenfeld will provide leadership and support for Efrat residents, in particular in life-cycle related matters where people experience significant transitions.
Her position is not funded by the state, unlike her rabbinical counterparts, but rather by public donations raised by Efrat’s municpal chief rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
Rabbi Rivkin is amongst a number of Orthodox Jewish men who are supporting women’s leadership in the Orthodox Jewish community. He is joined by Rabbi Avi Weiss, though many would deem Weiss to be much more radical in his approach.
Still, Rivkn’s belief in the promotion of women’s leadership stems from a conviction about the inclusiveness of Torah.
He has written on the Midreshet Lindenbaum website,
The Torah belongs to everyone, from the intellectually elite to the intellectually challenged, from Jews who are observant to those who are far away. Judaism must be made accessible and welcoming to all, because it has a message for everyone.