The Orthodox rabbinate is all-male--but, if Haviva Ner-David has anything to say about it, it won't be for long.

Ner-David grew up in an ordinary Modern Orthodox community in Westchester County. Her parents kept a kosher kitchen but fudged a little when they went out, eating pasta and kosher fish in non-kosher restaurants. Her mother wore a hat only in shul, despite many Orthodox Jews' belief that married women must cover their hair all the time. In synagogue, Ner-David sat with the women, watching men chant from the Torah and lead the prayers.

In college, Ner-David began attending egalitarian Jewish services, where women were able to lead worship and sit with men. She immersed herself in Talmud study, and eventually applied to the ordination program at Yeshiva University, which ordains most of the Modern Orthodox rabbis in the US. (She was rejected.) Ner-David now lives in Israel with her three children and her husband: she covers her hair, but also wears tzitzit, the ritual fringes Jewish law requires men--but not women--to wear. And she is studying for rabbinic ordination with an Orthodox rabbi in Israel.

"Life on the Fringes," the story of Ner-David's reconciling Orthodox Judaism with feminism, is a must read for anyone who wants to understand contemporary Jewish life.

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