timeline

born 1980

The Brooklyn-born Rachel Kohl Finegold grew up immersed in Modern Orthodox religious learning ~ an interest that took her to Boston University, Israel and finally back to New York, where she studied Torah alongside her twin brother. In the end, he was ordained and she was not. But, that didn't stop Rachel from becoming a leader for her faith. 

Since then, she has helped expand opportunities for all women to do the same by thriving at a job she loves in a Montreal synagogue. Much is made of Rachel's historic status as one of the first Orthodox female clergy, but she's eager to be the norm rather than the exception. Just don't call her "Rabbi"...she prefers "Maharat," teacher of Jewish law and spirituality.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Rachel Kohl Finegold (16)

"I'm not actually a rabbi—it's a male role in Orthodoxy, and I have no desire to be a man."

Star of Davida Interviews Rachel Kohl Finegold | november 2010

"Being a rebbetzin [rabbi's wife] is just being an extension of my husband—it's not about me, it's about him, and who I chose to marry isn't my career path."

Star of Davida Interviews Rachel Kohl Finegold | november 2010

"I play piano—no one would ask me how I play piano as a woman. It's the same difference when it comes to women in Jewish leadership."

Star of Davida Interviews Rachel Kohl Finegold | november 2010

"At the winter solstice, we are in need not only of physical light, but of God’s light."

Hanukkah Candles in a New Light | 2012

"Hanukkah is a moment to gather—to pause and praise, to express gratitude for God’s presence in the natural order of the world as well as in our everyday lives."

Hanukkah Candles in a New Light | 2012

"Hanukkah [is] a celebration of hope amidst the darkness of winter, of God’s light in moments of uncertainty."

Hanukkah Candles in a New Light | 2012

"I'm standing on the shoulders of women who came before me, who fought to carve out space for women in Jewish life."

36 under 36: Rachel Kohl Finegold | july 2012

"Your career can only be successful if your job is a reflection of who you are. It's not about making a statement but about living fully."

jewish orthodox feminist alliance | april 2013

"I'm not doing this to make a statement; that's not what drives me."

A groundbreaking study center prepares Orthodox women rabbis, kind of | april 2013

"There is learning for the sake of learning and learning for the sake of leading."

Meet the Maharats: Questions for Rachel Kohl Finegold | may 2013

"I hope it will become the norm to see Orthodox women in religious leadership. What motivates the graduates of Yeshivat Maharat is simply to use our talents and skills to serve the Jewish people. I look forward to the day that I'm not newsworthy."

Meet the Maharats: Questions for Rachel Kohl Finegold | may 2013

"When do I experience most acutely that my life truly matters? When I face another person."

RKF Rosh Hashana 2013/5774 | september 2013

"Let us remind ourselves that we can change the world by being present in the life of another."

RKF Rosh Hashana 2013/5774 | september 2013

"Yom Kippur is a spiritual marathon, a prayer marathon . . . So, have you been training?"

Reflections on Yom Kippur | september 2013

"I'm not here to be the token woman. I'm here to do my job."

The Orthodox Madame Rabbi | december 2013

"Maybe we women need male allies. . . . It may sound patronizing, infantilizing even, [b]ut the reality is that if Orthodox women are going to have a voice in the typical Orthodox sanctuary, . . . it will only be with the help of the men."

Why Don't the Women Sing in Shul? | july 2014
  • Quotabelle profile
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curated with care by Meghan Miller Brawley {july 2014}