Monday, July 15, 2024

Iris Ferreira, the first female Rabbi to be ordained in France on a Sunday

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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We learned from the liberal Judaism movement that Iris Ferreira, 29, will be the first rabbinate ordained in France on Sunday.

She will become the fifth rabbinate to assume official duties in France after Pauline Pepe, Delphine Horvilleur, Florian Chinsky and Daniela Touati, all ordained abroad.

Etienne Kerber, a 36-year-old man of liberal Jewish leanings, will be appointed rabbi with her.

Both would receive a “semikha” (the transfer of power from one rabbi to another) from Rabbis Tom Cohen and Pauline Pepe, in their communities in Paris. Such an event has not happened in France for 53 years.

The liberal movement, largely dominant in the Anglo-Saxon world but a minority in France, supports an open view of Judaism. In contrast to traditionalists and orthodoxies who consider that a rabbinical assignment to a woman is inconsistent with Jewish law, halakha, liberal Jews believe that women have the same rights as men in all areas.

After four years of medicine, a BA in Hebrew, Iris Ferreira went to study in London at Leo Pike College, for five years, no rabbinic training then in France for the liberal movement.

She confirms to AFP that the first to visit the Orthodox Jewish communities in western France was said to have discovered in the liberal movement “an opening that allows everyone to make their way in a freer context.”

She will go to work for the Liberal Jewish Federation of Strasbourg (UJLS), “a community that does not currently have a liberal rabbi”.

“We are at a turning point in Jewish life. I hope this will better meet a need in the community,” she adds, while many other women in training will now become rabbis in the next four or five years.

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Attracted by rabbinic Etienne Kerber “since adolescence”, he studied English and American literature. He has a background as a musician and rock band and does not intend to give up music.

He also trained at Leo Pike College, and will run in the liberal Jewish community of Paris, along with Pauline Pepe.

In addition, they will both teach at the beginning of the academic year at the École Rabbinic de Paris, which opened in September 2019 and trains about ten liberal rabbis.

Two other rabbis, who were ordained at the same time in Cambridge and Amsterdam, will participate in the ceremony, which will be held on Sunday and organized by Leo Paik College.

In June 2019, an international meeting of rabbis or teachers from the United States, Israel and France was held in Troyes, the first of its kind in France. The question of a greater place for these women in Judaism was at the center of the discussions.

Altogether, there are about a thousand rabbis in the world. About 800 operate in the United States, about 50 in Europe, and the rest in Israel.

About ten liberal rabbis (men and women) now practice in France.

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