: רַבָּנִית) is the title used for the
wife of a rabbi
, typically from the Orthodox
, or Haredi
, and Hasidic
Jewish groups. With the growth of
independent scholarship among Orthodox women, some women have
informally received the title on their own merit, irrespective of
The Yiddish word has a convoluted etymology: Hebrew rebbə
"master", plus the Slavic feminine suffix -itsa
German feminine suffix -in.
In many Chassidic courts, Rebbitzins are considered to be spiritual
counselors, and give blessings. In circles such as the Chassidic
dynasty of Belz, the girls schools are run by the rebbitzin. There
are also several recorded instanced of female rebbes, who while
technically rebbitzins, were full-fledges rebbes in their own
right. One such famous case is the Maiden of Ludmir
The rabbi's wife plays an important community role, especially in
small communities. In many ways, she is called on to be as
knowledgeable as the rabbi in the realm of woman's observances: in
this manner, for something that does not require a psak
(ruling), she can be approached when a woman does not feel
comfortable approaching the rabbi, or where the rabbi maybe should
not be approached. For instance, the rebbitzin may often be the
lady" and help with more mundane
questions regarding the laws of niddah
of it, certainly, is that she always has the rabbi's ear, and that
she would know if the question needs to be asked, in order to get a
When a rabbi is a "pulpit rabbi," (versus a teacher or a "lay
rabbi") his wife becomes something of a first
of the community and performs social tasks and "outreach"
roles, freeing her husband to attend to rabbinical duties.
The term "Rabbanit" is now used by some women rabbis. Other
feminine terms such as "Morati" were initially suggested, but
"Rabbanit," coined by Bat Sheva Marcus at the 1997 conference on
Feminism and Orthodoxy in New York, is more widespread.
Israel, some women rabbis use the term Raba (רבה)
- an alternate female form of Rav ("rabbi").