On August 9, 2019, the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute gave smicha, ordination, to 22 Priestesses at a ceremony at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. The new Kohanot, Hebrew Priestesses, will constitute the seventh graduating class since Kohenet was founded 15 years ago, and the group includes former Boulder resident and member of Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Rachel Dale.
Several years ago, when I was feeling deeply the absence of the feminine in Jewish practice, Rav Bracha said, “You need to visit the Kohenet website.” That moment began my immersion in feminist, earth-based Judaism, which honors the sacredness of women’s work, women’s spirituality and the whole of the created world. It was a blessing to be supported by Boulder’s Kohenet elders: Rav Sarah Bracha Gershuny, Yocheved (Jude) Landsman, Rae Abileah and Andrea Jacobson.— Kohenet Rachel Dale
In this regard I’m really looking forward to seeing what our new Kohenet sister Rachel Dale does with the wind of smicha (ordination) beneath her wings, as she has been a leader in social justice her entire adult life. We sure do miss her at Nevei Kodesh, though since she has flown off to Florida to pursue some magnificent and life-affirming dreams we can’t help but celebrate with her. From one priestess to another, I’m wishing her every success!— Kohenet Rav Sarah Bracha Gershuny
The Kohenet certification empowers and enables new graduates to build on the work they are doing in communities across the United States and Canada, as well as in London, UK. They serve as scholars, therapists, activists, educators, nutritionists, officiants, artists, mothers, healers, community/organizational leaders and writers. They are gifted musicians and holy drummers. They have written liturgical poetry and brought forth sacred songs. They are activists for human rights and for ecological sustainability. They are exquisite chefs and school psychologists. They build communities through dialogue and understanding, lead groups in prayer and guide transformative rituals which mark life’s transitions in Jewish ways.
“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,” says Rabbi Jill Hammer, cofounder of Kohenet and the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy of Jewish Religion.
The 22 new Kohanot are:
Batya Minsky Diamond, Norwalk CT
Bekah Starr, Beacon NY
Dori Midnight, Northampton MA
Ella Meredith Gluckman, Philadelphia PA
Joanna Kent Katz, Florence MA
Judith Yvette Karen Breier, Northampton MA
Karen Pettinelli, Falls Village CT
Kathryn Danielle Silverstein, Brooklyn NY
Kelly-Chava Denise Banker, Somerville MA
Lauren Stein, Toronto ONT
Liviah Baldwin, Herndon VA
Mimi Rhys, Brighton MA
Nancy Wolfson-Moche, New York NY
Naomi Joy Gershman, North Bellmore NY
Rachel Dale, Seminole FL, formerly of Boulder, CO
Rakia Sky Beimel, Detroit MI
Sandra Lynn Ruch, Toronto ONT
Sat Pritam Jennifer Landis, Dublin NH
Shoshana Akua Brown, New York NY
Talia Caileigh Johnson, Toronto ONT
Yael Esther Tischler, London UK
Yocheved Angelique Amy Rosado-Torres, Lancaster PA
Co-founded by Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD and Taya Mâ Shere, Kohenet is an educational organization that runs concurrent retreat-based, residential, and online training programs on the East and West Coasts. They facilitate the creation of transformative Jewish ritual that is embodied, earth-based, feminist and inspired by traditions of women’s spiritual leadership from ancient Israelite sources, Jewish texts and folklore, kabbalah and contemporary creativity. There are currently Kohanot serving in 21 of the United States, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. More information can be found at www.kohenet.com.