When speaking or when referring to a non-Orthodox Jewish authority, for example, a Reform rabbi (whether male or female), should one use their title of "rabbi" - maybe for דרכי שלום or another reason, or should one specifically not use it, perhaps to deny legitimacy of the position/hashkafa/movement or another reason?

And can the same also be said for an individual who is also a convert by that movement's standards (but not Jewish by Orthodox standards)?

  • Somewhat relevant seforimblog.com/2020/11/…
    – Joel K
    Nov 6, 2020 at 11:01
  • 1
    Pretty sure Rabbi Jachter has a piece about this? You use "rabbi" in English, but not "harav" in a kesubah (e.g. the bride or groom's parent is heterodox clergy). The Igros Moshe refers to a rav Ortodoxi, shomer mitzvos vs. a rabbi reformer [transliteration "rabbi."]
    – Shalom
    Nov 6, 2020 at 11:49
  • @Shalom I don't know whether this was already a thing during Rav Feinstein's time, but did he talk about female rabbis or non-Jewish (per Orthodoxy) rabbis?
    – Harel13
    Nov 6, 2020 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


In numerous responsa, Rav Moshe Feinstein refers to non-Orthodox clergy as "ראבייס" or in plural "ראבייס", transliterating the English words "Rabbi" and "Rabbis". And these are written to Orthodox people asking questions... Not in front of the rabbis in question.

So, it would seem to me it's proper to call non-Orthodox rabbis "rabbis", as long as we do not pretend we mean the translation of "rabbanim".

I just wish I knew what Rav Moshe would have done in Israel, where the colloquial word is the Hebrew "rav".

(Locations in the Igeros Mosheh: Orakh Chaim 3:21; Yoreh Dei'ah 2:100, 4:50, 5:16, 5:38; Ehe 2:17, 3:3, 3:4, 3:25, 3:45, 4:13, 4:32, 4:46, 4:59, each of 4:75-4:78, 5:12, 5:13.)

  • Thanks. What would you say about female 'rabbis' and non-Jewish 'rabbis'?
    – Harel13
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:21

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