Ann and Jeremy Pava

(JTA) — A new initiative is paying Orthodox synagogues to hire female spiritual leaders.

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance announced Sunday the Devorah Scholar Program, which would give grants of up to $10,000 per year to synagogues that hire women as spiritual leaders.

Synagogues can receive a matching grant equaling half of the money that they commit, meaning that they would have to commit $20,000 to receive the maximum $10,000 grant per year. Synagogues can receive funding for two years.

The funds for the project were donated by Ann and Jeremy Pava of West Hartford, Connecticut.

The ordination of women as rabbis and spiritual leaders is fraught in the Orthodox world.

A decade ago, Yeshivat Maharat opened in New York as the first Orthodox institution in North America to ordain women as clergy members. The institution has faced pushback from many in the establishment Orthodox world, including the Orthodox Union.

The Conservative and Reform movements have been ordaining women as rabbis for decades.

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