Women of the Wall Co-founder Rivka Haut Dies

Rivka Haut convened the first women's prayer service with a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.

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Women of the Wall.
Women of the Wall.Credit: Tali Meir

Rivka Haut, a Women of the Wall founder who convened the first women’s prayer service with a Torah scroll at the Kotel, has died.

Haut, who also was a foremost advocate for agunot, Orthodox women who have been refused a religious divorce, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 71.

At the Women of the Wall prayer service on Tuesday, the worshipers recited Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, in memory of Haut.

On Dec. 1, 1988, she led a group of women in a prayer service with a Torah scroll at the Western Wall. She later helped found Women of the Wall, which continues to hold a monthly morning prayer service at the Kotel.

Haut also was a founder of the Women’s Tefillah Network.

She was the co-author of four books: “Daughters of the King: Women and the Synagogue,” with Rabbi Susan Grossman; “Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site,” with Phyllis Chesler; “Shaarei Simcha: Gates of Joy,” with Adena Berkowitz; and a forthcoming book about agunot with Susan Aranoff.

Berkowitz in a Facebook post wrote of an encounter she had leaving Haut’s funeral, The New York Jewish Week reported.

“I was stopped by an older woman with a sheitel. … With an ache in her voice and soul she said to me, ‘Who will now be there for all the agunot? Rivka is irreplaceable,’ ” Berkowitz wrote, according to the newspaper.

Haut had master’s degrees in English literature from Brooklyn College and in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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