Talia Johnson to be ordained Jewish Priestess


We are delighted to share Ms Talia Caileigh Johnson’s invitation to her smicha on Friday, August 9, 2019 in Falls Village, CT.

Having navigated a three year program with the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute including both online coursework and in-person intensives, Talia will be ordained Kohenet, a Hebrew Priestess, one who embodies G!ddess and who is dedicated in sacred service of tikkun olam, healing the world. At her smicha, Talia will also take an additional sacred name in honor of this transition.

Talia will become one of the few openly transgender women in ordained Jewish leadership. Leiah Lin Moser is believed to be the first, openly transgender woman ordained in Judaism (through the Reconstructionist Movement) in 2017.

Talia Portrait.jpeg

The Kohenet website says they are working on updating their gender policy, but self-describes as “a community for people who identify as women. We welcome transwomen, ciswomen, intersexwomen and people who are AFAB that identify as gender non-conforming, gender variant, gender fluid and gender queer.” Nonetheless, Talia is the first trans woman to enter the program and will be the first trans woman to receive her smicha through that institution.

“When women started being ordained as rabbis, priests, pastors, and started becoming executives, the work didn't change, the way things are done is still based in the men's way of doing things,” Talia shares. “Kohenet is different. It's feminist, a different approach to leadership that isn't based on inherently patriarchal models.“

Talia extends her thanks to The Ravot, Rav Kohenet Taya Shere, Rav Kohenet Jill Hammer, and Rav Kohenet Shoshana Jedwab for their support, teaching, and their love of teaching and learning. Everyone in her cohort. Rabbi Kohenet Anna Maranta for mentorship and support. Kohenet Judith Wouk. Her mother, Victoria, for being a role model and constant support. Her best friend Cait (Pinky to her Brain) for helping keep things real, and regular humour. Those who have helped financially with her studies.

Talia would be glad to have additional supporters from transgender communities in attendance at her smicha (ordination). She will be ordained with her cohort (the 7th, Zayin) and there will be an entire weekend of festivities beginning with shabbat dinner. To RSVP for just the smicha, please contact Talia directly (online form here).