Conservative Judaism/noun

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Question
What is the common noun used to refer to the wife of a rabbi?

Answer
Dear Thomas,

Thanks for writing.

The most well-known terms for the wife of a Rabbi - and this used to be very simple - is "rebbetzin" which is Yiddish.

Another term in modern Hebrew is "rabbanit" which you'll also find some people using.

The complication today is the "new" Rabbinate in the liberal Jewish world.

First of all, there are women Rabbis, and hence the challenge - what do we call the spouse of the Rabbi, which has led to many jokes.

Secondly, there are gay and lesbian couples one of whom is a Rabbi - and occasionally both are Rabbis. How do we address the partner of a gay male Rabbi or a lesbian femal Rabbi - of they are not Rabbis themselves?

Got it?

I think that the easiest way may be to ask the Rabbi how you should address their spouse or partner.  Of course, "Mr." "Mrs." or if they have a professional title use that, e.g. "Dr."

Good luck - it's a new world.

Rabbi Dov  

Conservative Judaism

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Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner

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Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at www.jewishfreeware.org. In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.

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I have served on the National Youth Commission for more than 25 years and serve on the Boards of the Conservative Zionist movement MERCAZ and the World Council of Synagogues. I have always dual-families and taught candidates for conversion with a great sense of fulfillment. I am very proud of 25 years on the Jewish camping staff of Camps Ramah. My greatest source of pride is my family! Ask me about them, please!:-)

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