Are there female priests in the Jewish faith?

A question raised out of simple ignorance.

In 2012, (or anytime prior) can a female fill the role of priest in the Jewish faith?

I simply need a binary Yes / No answer; I don’t need the justification.

I’m inclined to think that the answer is “No”.
Something I heard made me think otherwise.



What makes you think we have priests?


More ignorance I guess. A combination of radio and ‘Christian’ interpretation of the Old Testament and the gospels…

Am I mistaken on the initial precept ?
There are NO priests within the jewish tradition? ( that is ANOTHER question !) .

Peace (although, my own lack of understanding is undermining it…!! :slight_smile:


We haven’t had priests since the destruction of the Temple nearly 2000 years ago.

Now, we have rabbis who aren’t the same thing.

I don’t know that the Levite priesthood really exists in Judaism anymore. If you mean are there female rabbis then it would depend on the community. I know there are female rabbis in many places, just not sure if they are accepted in ultra orthodox communities.

The Kohen’s are ‘waiting in the wings’.

It’s possible the Priests will return if the Temple is rebuilt.

Unlike the other tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi is not thought to have completely lost its identity. Many Jewish people, with names such as Levit, Levin, and Levine, are thought to be of the tribe of Levi. They are given special roles to fill in Jewish synagogue worship because of their priestly heritage. Those with names such as Cohen, Kahan, and sometimes Katz are thought to come from the priestly family within the tribe of Levi.

Thanks, Kaninchen. I wasn’t sure if the line of Aaron had been maintained since the destruction of the temple. I assume the Kohen are still required to be descendant from Aaron(?), but really not sure what the status of the Judaic priesthood is.

The priesthood will come back when the Temple comes back. To be a Kohen you have to be descended from Aaron - we have one active on CAF - YKohen.- who will probably explain all if he sees this thread.

Edited just to add that the ‘Kohanim’ share a common DNA marker to this day.


hmm… never thought of this before. First question, what is the difference between a priest and a rabbi? Im trying to educate myself a little.

Also, when did Priests in the Jewish Faith “disappear” and Rabbi’s come into place instead?

Here’s Judaism 101’s explanation of the various Jewish roles (saves my typing ;)).

After the destruction of the Temple and the scattering of Jews after the Bar Kokhba rebellion the role of Rabbi became central to how Judaism developed. Rabbis had been around a long time - the entire Jewish population didn’t turn up once a week at the Temple in Jerusalem for prayers and a sacrifice, most of the time they went to synagogue. The Temple ‘system’ and synagogue ‘system’ existed side-by-side, when the Temple was destroyed one ‘system’ ended but the other carried on.

Priests offer sacrifice for the expiation of sin. Catholic priests offer the body and blood of the Lamb of God (Christ) supernaturally made present by God at every mass. Prior to the destruction of the temple, Jewish priests offered a variety of animals (I’m not an expert, sadly) in accordance with their traditions.

Rabiis are teachers of the law and of the Jewish Tradition that has developed regarding its interpretation and implementation. They are the descendents of the Pharisees of NT biblical times.

Thanks for the clarification. So to the OP’s original question. When the Temple is rebuilt would women be allowed to be priest or can Kohen only be male? I have my supposition but I am far from a Jewish scholar.

WOW!!! What an opportunity for learning!
I knew my question was born out of simple ignorance; but I underestimated the complexity for what I thought was a simple binary question.

And so:
In 2012, are there priests within the Jewish tradition? Yes / No.

*]If “Yes”, can they be female?

*]If “No (no priests)”, can there be female Rabbis ?



No priests. (Though there are those persons qualified to be priests. But there has to be a temple before there can be priests.)

According to the Old Testament, priests could only be men.

Yes. I had a professor in college who was a woman and a rabbi. Judaism, like Christianity, has its liberal, middle of the road, and conservative versions. Liberals most definitely would have female rabbis. More moderate forms will also have female rabbis, but the most conservative forms will not.

You might also want to discover when priests entered the picture and note that they were not the leaders of the community for rather a long time, as first there were Prophets and Judges and Kings.

Now there are rabbis. BTW, there are female rabbis.

This question is a job for…Meltzerboy!

Not in the Hasidic or Orthodox traditions.

It’s male descendants of Aaron who are Kohanim.

There are female rabbis in Reform Judaism but not in Orthodox Judaism. In Conservative Judaism (to put it simply, midway in orthodoxy between Orthodox and Reform), there was something of a scandal when a female rabbi was ordained. I believe, and others may have the details, there was ONCE, perhaps a few hundred years ago, a female rabbi in Orthodox Judaism.

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