Tova Warburg Sinensky, of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania., has been selected as yoetzet halacha for the Teaneck community, beginning in mid-July. The current yoetzet halacha, Shoshana Samuels, is making aliyah this summer with her family. A search committee composed of representatives from the shuls that sponsor the Teaneck yoetzet halacha—Congregations Rinat Yisrael, Shaarei Tefilla and Netivot Shalom—engaged in a rigorous search to identify her successor. In addition to the sponsoring shuls, community support from individual women and their families is critical to funding the Teaneck yoetzet halacha, as her services are utilized by and available to women across the entire community.
“We are truly grateful to Yoetzet Halacha Shoshana Samuels for her outstanding service to the community, and wish her and her family a successful aliyah,” said Tirza Bayewitz, chair of the Yoetzet steering committee. “Yoetzet Halacha Tova Warburg Sinensky will carry on Shoshana’s good work, and comes to this role with deep experience, compassion, energy, technological savvy and lots of good ideas.”
Yoatzot halacha are women trained by Nishmat in Israel and in the U.S. to serve as advisers on the laws of mikvah and taharat hamishpacha (Jewish family purity). The training entails two years of in-depth study of traditional talmudic and halachic texts, coupled with extensive knowledge of women’s physical and mental health, which is integral to answering questions properly. There are currently 19 women serving in this role in 54 institutions across the country. Teaneck was one of the first communities to welcome a yoetzet halacha into the community in 2007, an effort led by Congregation Rinat Yisrael. The Teaneck yoetzet is available as a resource to the entire community and currently fields over 1,000 shailot (halachic questions) annually.
Sinensky, a graduate of the inaugural class of Nishmat’s U.S. Miriam Glaubach Center Yoetzet Halacha Program (2011-2013), has served as the yoetzet halacha of Greater Philadelphia for almost six years, in addition to serving as the yoetzet for the Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta. She has fielded thousands of questions related to taharat hamishpacha with her signature grace, sensitivity, knowledge and warmth. She has also served as the interim yoetzet halacha of the Riverdale Jewish Center.
Tova is passionate about building relationships with women in the community, as well as with rabbis, rebbetzins and other professionals to maximally support women and families. She serves on the advisory committee of the Jewish Fertility Foundation and Eden Center, has contributed to publications for Yesh Tikva and the Eden Center, and has published a number of articles pertaining to the work of yoatzot halacha as well as the experience of women and avodat Hashem. She has taught kallot for over a decade, and served as a curriculum consultant and educator for various high schools on intimacy and healthy relationships. She currently works as the reflection coach at Kohelet Yeshiva where she supports new and veteran teachers by reflecting 1:1 with them on their teaching practice. “The bedrock of my work is building relationships and supporting individuals in their quest to be their best selves,” she says.
Tova knows the community well, having grown up in Englewood, New Jersey. She holds a BA in philosophy from Stern College, a master’s in secondary Jewish education from Azrieli Graduate School, and is a graduate of the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women (GPATS). “I am passionate about making Torah learning exciting and accessible to women of all ages and stages,” she says. Previously, she was the Gemara and Halacha department chair at both Ma’ayanot and Kohelet, and lectures throughout the U.S. and abroad. This fall, she will be teaching at The Frisch School, in addition to mentoring and working on a curriculum focused on intimacy and healthy relationships.
Tova and her family are looking forward to moving to Teaneck this summer. Women in the community are invited to come meet Tova and thank Shoshana for her service at the annual community-wide Teaneck Yoetzet Initiative event, to be held at Rinat on July 18. This event is supported by individuals in the community along with organizations across the community who are concerned with women’s health and halacha, including American Friends of Nishmat, AMIT, Emunah, Lamdeinu, Nechama Comfort, Project S.A.R.A.H., Sharsheret, and Yesh Tikvah.
By Tamar Snyder