Nishmat is seeking six dedicated women with extensive Torah scholarship, deep religious commitment, and leadership skills to fill the sixth Yoatzot Halacha class in the United States.
Goal: Since the inception of Nishmat’s Keren Ariel program to educate and certify Yoatzot Halacha in 1999, many qualified American women have been yearning to participate in this distinctive opportunity to build and support women’s commitment to Jewish observance, and to increase women’s comfort with asking questions on the most intimate topic of טהרת המשפחה. However, they have been unable to move to Israel for the two years required to complete the course. Knowing how many talented women fall into this category, and knowing how many communities have been vying for a Yoetzet Halacha to service their families, Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach center inaugurated the U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program in 2011. Our program strives to create a uniquely supportive and stimulating environment, committed to enhancing the quality of life for observant Jewish women.
Fellows must enter the program with the extensive Torah scholarship and stamina necessary for the rigor of over 1,000 hours of בית מדרש study over three summers and two years, as well as serious time spent each week beyond the official hours in order to master the demanding course of study and to excel on written exams for each unit. Their learning is guided by a שואל ומשיב, who is present in the בית מדרש at each meeting, and by מגידי שיעורים who help our fellows develop a deep analysis of the topics, as well as a mastery of the application of the Halacha by modern day פוסקים. In addition to the Torah study, fellows study with professional experts from the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, fertility, psychology and psychiatry. Students take written mastery assessments of this curriculum as well- both formative and summative. Following graduation, Yoatzot Halacha are equipped to answer and counsel women on the intimate and often difficult questions which arise for women observing טהרת המשפחה, and they are prepared to participate in the halachic dialogue with רבנים at the highest level.
Given the prominent and public role יועצות הלכה fill within the Orthodox Jewish community, fellows must possess innate leadership abilities, paired with a deep sense of יראת שמים. They are highly esteemed role models, filling a lacuna for women and girls who seek an authentic, traditional form of women’s Torah leadership. Fellows demonstrate their desire to develop camaraderie with their colleagues, to work together in spreading the influence of, and access to, Yoatzot Halacha throughout the United States. They identify themselves as women who seek official roles in the community as Yoatzot Halacha. They show a desire to give back to the community which has enabled them to gain this unique information and skill set.
Over their study in YH/US, fellows develop their leadership skills, with workshops on conflict management, leadership styles, negotiation training, presentation skills, fundraising, and public relations and media training.
Remote Study: MGC anticipates running a remote learning program so that applicants can apply from all over U.S. and Canada. MGC will also accept applicants from Europe who are fluent in English, as well as students from the Southern Hemisphere.
Academic Expectations: Fellows are expected to be present for חברותא learning and classes in the Beit Midrash, in the absence of extenuating circumstances. Nishmat strongly discourages accepting speaking engagements which will interfere with a fellow’s learning, during the two years of the Fellowship, given the demanding nature of the program. It is even ideal to cut down on other professional responsibilities if financially possible, and to minimize kallah teaching during this time. Fellows take written examinations on all halachic, medical and psychological information. Fellows are expected to complete all written examinations on time. Upon completion of the entire curriculum, fellows engage in a comprehensive חזרה and prepare for summative oral examinations with prominent Rabbanim. Our שואל ומשיב and Program Director are there to support each fellow to reach these goals.
Mentorship: Following successful completion of all written and oral examinations, fellows participate in a 10 month long mandatory mentorship program.
Ongoing Continuing Education Expectations: Graduates of Nishmat’s U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program must continue their studies with Nishmat in halacha, medicine, psychology and leadership beyond their official time in our program. Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center provides annual mandatory professional development seminars to facilitate this expectation.
Dates, Hours and Location, subject to change:
Note: Due to the challenges to travel possibilities and childcare options catalyzed by the novel Coronavirus, our program altered many aspects of operation, with an insistence on attaining the same level of quality while showing flexibility to the varying needs of individual students. We pray such modifications are unnecessary, since they impacted the experience of the program, but we are prepared to respond as necessary.
June 28 – July 8, 2021, June 29- July 14, 2022 – Seminar in Teaneck, NJ. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Second Summer, Fridays, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.)
July 12- August 12, 2021 and July 1- August 4, 2022 – Continued study in Teaneck, or remote study, utilizing our videoconferencing technology to be part of our virtual Beit Midrash. Fellows are expected to be in the Beit Midrash or Virtual Beit Midrash, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. During Summer 2022, students will also study on Fridays, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
August 30, 2021- June 23, 2022, and September 5, 2022 – June 29, 2023- Students will study 12 hours a week, with as much synchronous learning as possible.
Here are two possible schedules a chavruta can choose to keep:
Schedule A: Monday mornings from 9 AM-2 PM Eastern Time, Tuesday afternoons from 1-5 PM Eastern Time, and 3 more hours at some point in the week.
Schedule B: Monday mornings from 11:30 AM-2 PM Eastern Time, Tuesday afternoons from 1-5 PM Eastern Time, Wednesdays from 11:30 AM- 2 PM Eastern Time, plus 3 more hours at some point in the week.
Students who live in Europe or on the West Coast may have more flexibility of hours given the time difference but must be present on Mondays from 11:30 AM-2 PM EST, Tuesdays from 1 PM-5 PM EST.
“Destination Learning”: Three times during the academic year, students will gather for two to three days one of the YH/US fellows’ communities for intensive full day study.
July 3, 2023- August 24, 2023- חזרה for Oral Examinations. Precise schedule and location(s) TBD.
Week of August 14 or 21, 2023- Oral Examinations.
September, 2023- June, 2024- Mentorship
Stipend: Fellows receive a modest stipend over 24 months.
Transportation costs: To enable participation in in-person segments of our program, Nishmat’s MGC will cover fellows’ basic economy class round trip travel costs. Full details to be provided upon acceptance and based on the locations of accepted fellows.
Application Deadline: January 15, 2021. Application includes a written examination to assess scholarship capabilities, and a potential oral examination if deemed necessary.
Interviews with Rabbanit Chana Henkin, Dean of Nishmat, Yoetzet Halacha Noa Lau, Program Consultant; Rabbi Kenneth Auman, Dean of YH/US; Rabbi Gedalyah Berger, מגיד שיעור and שואל
ומשיב ; and Yoetzet Halacha Atara Eis, Program Director, will be held at the office of American Friends of Nishmat in Manhattan in February, 2021. You will be notified if you will be asked to interview shortly after your application is reviewed.
We hope you will consider applying to be part of this exclusive cadre of women, to strengthen Jewish marriages and deepen people’s commitment to living inspired, engaged Torah lives.