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I am familiar with two different programs which (as far as I understand) teach women to be halachaik authorities. Graduates of one program--Yeshivat Maharat in New York--are called Maharat. Graduates of the other program--Nishmat: The Jewish Center for the Advanced Torah Study for Women in Jerusalem--are called Yoatzot Halacha.

What is the difference between Maharat and Yoetzet Halacha? I seek differences in what they learn and in what their level of authority is.

As a follow up question: my impression is that the second program is (more or less) universally accepted among Orthodox (or at least Modern Orthodox) Jews, whereas the first program is far more controversial. Is this true? If so, why?

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The Yoetzet program only teaches the laws of Niddah. Their graduates aren't being trained to be full community leaders. –  Double AA May 31 '13 at 13:23
    
@DoubleAA Then what is the difference between a Yoetzet Halacha and every other woman who learns the laws of Niddah when she gets married? –  Daniel May 31 '13 at 13:26
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The same difference between a Sofer Sta"m and every Jew who puts on Tefillin in the morning. –  Double AA May 31 '13 at 13:27
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Yoatzot Halacha only learn for the most part how to pasken she'eilot about niddah from women, as well as maybe other "women's issues."

Maharats focus on all of Halacha. In terms of perception, the rabbinate in Israel recognize yoatzot- not maharats.

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But why do they recognize yoatzot and not maharot? –  Daniel May 31 '13 at 13:53
    
@Daniel Maharat is a new program. They just had their first graduating class this month. –  Double AA May 31 '13 at 13:56
    
@DoubleAA So the rabbinate doesn't recognize them because they just haven't gotten around to it yet? Seems unlikely to me. I have personally observed opposition to the Maharat program based on the idea that women shouldn't issue psak (not entirely sure that they do that, anyway), but they couldn't explain to me why it is worse than yoetzet halacha. –  Daniel May 31 '13 at 13:58
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@Daniel, if you're basing your question on opposition you've seen, please edit that motivation for the question into it so people can answer the question you actually mean to ask. (All it says now that there's controversy over acceptance, but nothing about actual opposition.) –  msh210 May 31 '13 at 15:52
    
@msh210 Isn't that what controversy is? Some people support and others oppose? –  Daniel May 31 '13 at 15:55
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