Women in Judaism


Women in Judaism

Torah. Community. Learning. Our YOF alumni community is full of accomplished professionals and community leaders. Every day they show what it means to live the life of Torah U’Mada that we stress here. 

In the days before Purim, we think more deeply about the women in our community who are making an impact on Klal Yisrael. Throughout our history, women have taken on leadership roles, expanded educational opportunities and pushed boundaries in their own way. 

In this issue, we profile a few trailblazing Flatbush graduates who one day asked why not me? 

Michelle Cohen Farber (HS ’89) first encountered Gemara study here at YOF. What began as a graduation requirement soon became a lifelong love of learning. She is the founder of Hadran: Advancing Talmud Study for Women and Daf Yomi for Women, the first woman's podcast on the daf yomi. Michelle spearheaded the first international Siyum HaShas for women, which took place in January.

When you ask Michelle about her time at YOF, she says, “at Flatbush I was inculcated with the values of learning, educational excellence and community outreach.” She has been written up in numerous publications for her commitment to unlocking the door to Talmud study for women of all ages and education levels. Michelle has a degree in Talmud and Bible study from Bar-Ilan University. 

She lives in Ranaana, Israel with her husband Rabbi Seth Farber and their children. 

Rena Nasar First (ES '06, HS '10) is a leader in the movement to educate and empower Zionists. She is the Executive Director of Campus Affairs at StandWithUs, an Israel education organization dedicated to educating/empowering Zionists of all ages across the globe and fighting antisemitism in every form. The work of her staff is positively impacting student leaders in North America, the UK, and Israel, and will soon be expanding to Brazil and the Netherlands.

When we asked Rena how her Flatbush education informs her work she said, "my Flatbush education motivates and influences me every day. It was at YOF where I realized my passion for Zionism was not just a core value of my identity, but also something I wanted to pursue professionally." 

Rena is a graduate of Baruch College where she received a double degree in Middle East Studies and Journalism. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Jason.

Ilana Bachman Gottlieb (ES ’87, HS ’91) is first and foremost an educator. Before making Aliyah in 2009, Ilana taught at Ramaz, SAR Academy and Yeshivat Rambam. Her love for Jewish text study began in Rabbi Dr. Raymond Harari’s (HS '72) class. In her own words, “it was a defining moment, where I realized I could learn on the highest level.”

Ilana is a natural born leader, a talent she showcased while serving as Rebbetzin of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Baltimore, Maryland. At CSE, she worked to grow women’s and youth education initiatives. She has a BA from Stern College for Women and MA in Education from Azrieli School of Education at Yeshiva University.  

Some of you may recognize Ilana’s name because you know her Dad, he was the Director of Pupil Personnel Services for many years, Mr. Harvey Bachman so her Flatbush roots run deep. 

Ilana returns to Flatbush every year, to recruit students for the gap year program at Midreshet AMIT seminary where she is the director. She lives in Ramat Shilo, Israel with her husband and four children.

Esther Benun Hidary (HS ’94) has as long history as a YOF educator. What began as a substitute teaching gig during graduate school eventually developed into a burgeoning career teaching the young minds of our community. She developed a love for language here at Yeshivah of Flatbush eventually culminating in the prized position of yearbook editor in her senior year. 

Esther is the Assistant Principal, Director of Admission and Chair of the Tanakh department at the Yeshivah. She has a bachelors degree in English and a Masters in English Education from Columbia University Teachers College. 

Outside of the Yeshivah, Esther is a sought after speaker on topics of Tanakh and Jewish Philosophy. For many years, she has been teaching weekly community classes for women on selected topics in Tanach at Joel Braverman High School. Esther lives with her husband and four children in Brooklyn. Two of her sons are currently students in the high school and her husband, Rabbi Dr. Ricky Hidary (ES '89, HS '93) is a graduate of YOF as well. 

Are you a trailblazer in your field? Let us know at We are always looking for interesting stories for future newsletters.

To find out more about sponsoring Judaics, Israel advocacy or other programs at YOF, please contact Hila Stern, Director of Development at or 718.377.4040 x110




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