Twenty scholarships awarded by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Australia 

October 11, 2021 by Nomi Kaltmann
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The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Australia (JOFA) has recently provided twenty scholarships to Australian women from Sydney and Melbourne who wanted to become qualified Kallah teachers, via a 20-week world-renowned course offered on ZOOM by The Eden Centre in Jerusalem.

This is the first time an all-Australian cohort has undertaken Kallah training via the centre who focuses on enabling all women to have a personally meaningful and welcoming experience in the mikveh.

“A strong theme which emerged from the JOFA Australia launch in May 2021 was that many Orthodox women in Australia felt that they lack the skills or training to take on leadership positions or get involved in conversations around Jewish law,” said JOFA Australia President Nomi Kaltmann. “Many women at our launch were concerned that at key critical lifecycle moments, such as birth, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, marriage and death, women did not have the requisite Halachic knowledge to be adequately involved, with multiple attendees highlighting the specific difficulty finding relatable Kallah teachers in Australia,” she said.

In response, JOFA Australia decided to immediately address these concerns by seeking out and actively recruiting Australian women interested in undergoing training via a scholarship program.

“Originally we were unsure if we would get the minimum numbers to run an all-Australian cohort, but we were heartened that we had generous donors who wanted to fund the course for the benefit of all Australian women,” said JOFA Australia Vice President Sharona Jotkowitz. “We are pleased that as soon as we opened up recruitment for this program, the interest was immense, with many applicants from diverse backgrounds applying from more than 12 synagogues across Melbourne and Sydney.”

Despite the rigorous nature of the course, which includes 60 contact hours, tests and an exam, the new cohort of Australian Kallah teachers are excited about contributing back to the community.

“It’s great to be able to access this course via zoom and learn with a local group of talented and thoughtful women,” said Melbourne participant, Tamar Adler. “I think it is important that Jewish women become empowered by the knowledge and experience of these laws that have been the foundation of Jewish family life for centuries before us, in a positive open-minded framework that is relevant to our daily lives in 2021,” she said.

Adding to this sentiment, Gila Weiner, a participant doing the course from Sydney noted, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside passionate women…with a topic as important as ‘successful relationships’, I’m thankful for the time dedicated to building my personal knowledge as well as a cohort of learned, approachable Kallah teachers. The fact that JOFA and our community values this training from an incredible organisation such as The Eden Centre is not something I take for granted!”

More information about the course and other opportunities for orthodox women can be found on the JOFA Australia Facebook, Instagram page or website.

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