Why the UK's first Orthodox female Rabbi is so important

In recent centuries, so many previously insurmountable barriers have been stormed by brave women. The fields of politics, science, computing and academia have all been permeated and even dominated by female figures. But we face a new frontier that has yet to be updated from its archaic way of thinking: religion.

Though not an intrinsically misogynistic institution, religion is culpable of retaining a patriarchal hierarchy whereby men often occupy positions of respect and power. One woman who is doing much to change this for the Jewish community is Rabba Dina Brawer. Dina's husband, Rabbi Naftali Brawer, has been an extremely well regarded Rabbi for many years within my own local synagogue and, though Dina was respected within the community, she was never quite equal, as she told the Jewish Chronicle, 'People just see me as a spouse.'

Determined to change this, she took a massively unconventional leap of faith and decided to study for an Orthodox rabbinical qualification. A few years later, she is now the UK's first Orthodox female Rabbi, with the official title of Rabba Dina Brawer and is fully qualified to officiate weddings, teach and answer religious questions.

Having grown up in a relatively traditional Jewish family, I have seen first-hand the subjugation and inferiority of women, whether that is my male family members being able to read from the Torah while I am forced to stand at the back of the synagogue in the women's section, or being told that my place is 'in the home' because that is where God wants me to be. Having a female religious role model like Dina enables young Jewish girls to break out of their second class roles and identify with a strong leader who just also happens to be a woman.

Whether religious or not, I feel as though there is a lot we can all learn from Dina. She did not allow the prescriptive expectations placed upon her to continually define her position or to allow her to remain second best to her male counterparts. There are also many parallels we can draw between this and university life; it teaches us that academic and passionate pursuits are always worthwhile and we should never let our conceived positions restrict our abilities. Ultimately, I have a lot of respect for this woman and am grateful for trailblazers like her that open doors for the rest of us to walk through.