In 2009, I was one of 11 women to receive smichah as a Kohenet. We journeyed through a three year training program of embodied, feminist Jewish spirituality. This was the brain child of Rabbi Jill Hammer, Taya Shere, and Shoshana Jedwab (kneeling in front). We were the first in the modern era to formally receive this title of "Priestess."
Even though women have been able to be Rabbis for about thirty years in most denominations, they wondered what a truly feminine form of Jewish spiritual leadership would look like. From this was born Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Training Institute.
We all thought the journey ends with Smichah. We couldn't have understood until our ordination ceremony and heard the words, "and from this moment on -- you are a Kohenet" that the journey was just beginning.
In those moments it wasn't just the eleven lives of the women receiving smichah that were transformed along with those laying hands on us. It was the women in the cohort after us, and all those to follow. It was all the face of 21st Century Judaism and all those we encounter and share our story and our faith with.
This picture was taken the day after the ceremony with all of us wearing the beautiful ceremonial garments we received as part of the smichah. Not pictured is Kohenet Yosefa Rafaela, which was more prophetic than any of knew. She passed away about six months later.