History was made Wednesday morning as the opening prayer in the Georgia House of Representatives was delivered by Darshanit Miriam Udel, an Orthodox rabbi and professor at Emory University.
Udel was introduced by Democratic Rep. Esther Panitch, who greeted the chamber with the words “Shalom, y’all,” not once, but twice. Panitch said, to applause from the chamber, that, insofar as could be determined, Udel was the first Jewish female rabbi, of any denomination, to lead the House in prayer.
Udel is one of the first Orthodox Jewish women ordained, choosing the title Darshanit, meaning “interpreter of text.” Udel is the Judith London Evans Director of the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture.
Udel recognized “a little bit of history that we are making here today” as she began her remarks, a davar based on the coming Shabbat’s Torah portion, “Shabbat Shirah,” the Sabbath of song.
Video of Panitch intro and Udel speaking near the beginning at this link: https://www.legis.ga.gov/video/house