Kohenet Institute Ordains Nine Hebrew Priestesses
Graduating Class of 2015 Serve As Jewish Ritual Leaders and Educators
On Friday, July 24, 2015, the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute gave smicha, ordination, to nine women at a ceremony at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. The nine new Kohanot, Hebrew Priestesses, constitute the fourth graduating class since Kohenet started 10 years ago. One of the nine women is Boulder Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny of Congregation Nevei Kodesh. Under the guidance of Kohenet co-founders Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD and Taya Shere, the nine have been trained as ritual leaders in an earth-based, embodied, feminist Jewish paradigm that honors the history of women’s spiritual practices and the sacred feminine. They are from three countries: the US, England and Ireland.
The Kohenet certification empowers and enables new graduates to continue building on the work they are doing, in positions such as a congregational rabbi in Colorado, a youth educator at Eden Village Camp in New York, and a founding resident of Moishe House in London, England. The graduating class has published articles, books, and poetry, created Judaica artwork, and facilitated workshops on midwifery, gender inclusivity, earth-based ritual, storytelling, and strategic planning. They are activists for human rights, for dialogue and understanding, and for ecological sustainability. Kohenet graduates will lead communities in prayer, conduct marriages, funerals, baby namings, house blessings, and many other ceremonies.
“The Kohenet Institute is an utterly new, yet ancient, movement, drawing on stories of women of the Bible and Talmud as well as ancient, medieval, and modern ritual practices to create a Jewish experience that is transformative, reverent, and inclusive.”
The nine newly ordained Kohanot are:
- Rae Abileah, Oakland, California
- Elsa Asher, Sebastopol, California
- Sarah Shamirah Chandler, New York, NY
- Rebecca Lemus, Washington, D.C.
- Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny, Boulder, Colorado
- Ashirah Marni Rothman, Berkeley, CA and Dublin, Ireland
- Nina Pick, Inverness, California
- Rachel Rose Reid, London, England
- Ariel Vegosen, San Francisco, California