Prof. Nechama Price Wants To Create The Next Generation of Women Scholars and Torah Educators
Stern College for Women is blessed with a plethora of brilliant women Torah scholars who teach and inspire their students every day. Among them, Prof. Nechama Price stands out as not only a Senior Judaic Studies and Bible Lecturer, but also as the director of the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) and a yoetzet halacha serving the communities of Englewood, Tenafly, Livingston, West Orange and Long Branch, NJ. She lives in Bergenfield with her husband and four children.
Price has always loved to learn Torah. Her exposure to Talmud Torah up until seminary was largely in the worlds of Tanach and Torah She Baal Peh. She grew up in Teaneck, NJ, graduated from Bruriah High School and then attended Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalyim (MMY) in Israel for two years. Price had always thought her career lay in teaching Tanach to high schoolers, but while in MMY, she was introduced to Gemara study for the first time, and realized that she really liked it and that she “was so behind.” She then attended Stern for her bachelor’s degree.
When she completed her bachelor’s in Judaic studies, Price realized she needed to sit and learn for a while and joined GPATS, which had only opened the year before — she considers this to have been “a gift from God.” GPATS was a new program, and with that came the hesitations of doing something unprecedented. “It’s always hard to do something that’s new; that’s always a difficulty of being in the first/second year of these types of programs,” Price commented. “But I believe so strongly in women and Talmud Torah and the value of Talmud Torah, so it was never a hesitation for me to do GPATS.”
There was no doubt that Price would continue to learn after college. “It’s not like I was applying to jobs,” she said. “I was going to GPATS; it was no question.” She got married during her second year of GPATS and then stayed for an additional year, even though it was only a two-year program.
Price was unsure what to do after GPATS. “The third year, I did apply for a few jobs and I didn’t want any of those jobs,” she said. “My husband turned to me and was like, ‘you just want to stay, so stay,’ and thank God he was so supportive.”
Staying for the third year ultimately led Price to her career. Upon graduation from GPATS in 2003, she was offered to teach a mechina course, a niddah course and to sit in the Beit Midrash for 20 hours a week and learn with different undergraduate students.
By her second semester as a teacher, she added her “Introduction to Exegesis course,” which she affectionately calls “Ambiguities,” as its main goal is to solve various ambiguities found in Biblical text. While she loves all of her courses, Ambiguities is her favorite because “my number one passion, other than of course my family, is Tanach.” She explained that she loves “the ability to see the ambiguity within the language, within the characters, the complexity within all of them, and to allow people to view stories and view people in different ways that they’ve never seen before.” Additionally, Price loves her Ambiguities course because she feels it enables her students to teach Torah in the future using the skills they gain from the course.
As she began her teaching career at Stern, Price also went on to complete two master’s degrees in Jewish Education and Bible at Azrieli and Revel, respectively. By the time her second child was born, she became a full-time professor at Stern, and is currently pursuing her doctorate at Azrieli. Price now teaches two niddah courses, two marriage courses, and four Tanach courses. She is also the only female lecturer on the Judaic Studies advanced faculty. Eventually, Price accepted the position of director of GPATS because the program changed her life, and she feels that it can push women to higher levels of learning and teaching — she believes very strongly in the need for women scholars to teach Torah.
Price joined the first class of yoatzot halacha in the United States ten years ago and has served as a yoetzet for the past eight years. Before joining the program, she made sure to check that it was permitted with her poskim and also to “check with my life—I had three children at that point.” She feels that she has always had a strong support system from her family, husband, and poskim, and this did not stop when she pursued her yoetzet certification. “It is an honor on a daily basis to be a yoetzet halacha, to be able to have the privilege to answer and help women with their shailas,” she said.
Price sees great importance in teaching hilchot niddah in a formal classroom setting. She feels that “if you don’t learn it inside and don’t learn it well, it is very hard to keep correctly in the future.” Her aim is to help women navigate hilchot niddah in a healthy way.
In addition to teaching and community work, Price published her first book in 2020, titled “Tribal Blueprints: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel.” She had written a course for Stern which explored the twelve shevatim (tribes) in a revolutionary way. She explained how she noticed that most of the time, the shevatim are studied as one unit, but that she has never seen anyone explore each shevet as an individual entity.
Generally, Price loves to delve into the numerous personalities of people in Tanach. Her course on the shevatim explored the characteristics of each shevet individually by grouping together all the stories related to that shevet. She explained that the goal is “trying to take characters that we all think we know and breaking down their stories to see the complexity of each of their stories.” Price then explained that one day, she was giving over a shiur at a community event when Koren publisher Matthew Miller walked up to her and said, “You have a book in you.” She chose to use her shevatim course as content, and thus her book came about.
Price never left YU — she went straight from being a student at Stern to teaching; this is her 18th year at Stern. She loves everything about YU, especially the relationships she is able to build with her students: “I think a fundamental part of teaching Torah is the relationships you create with your students,” she said. “I love my students, I love their passion, their desire and excitement to learn, and I love their questions.” For Price, YU is a second home.
Price emphasizes to her GPATS students the importance of sitting and immersing oneself in Talmud Torah for a few years before beginning to teach. She recognizes that “in the world of scholar-in-residences and shiurim, there’s a very small list of women who go around from our world of Yeshiva University,” and she hopes that GPATS will produce more women who can do so. She wants more women to understand that “Torah can change your life, that it is worthwhile to spend time learning Torah.” She stresses the importance of having a space for women who want to sit and learn for a long period of time.
The main message Price wants to impart to her students and children through all of the work that she does both in and out of YU is that “Talmud Torah is for us women, too. Talmud Torah is a beautiful way to connect to God, to connect to spirituality, and to connect to your religiosity.” She believes it is crucial to convey the message that “women who love Torah and want to learn Torah — we are doing it because we love Torah and we want to learn Torah,” she explained. “Not agendas, not other reasons — we learn and teach Torah because we love Torah.”
“My goal as a teacher is not just to give over Torah,” Price concluded. “My goal as a teacher — and I believe this with every core of myself — is to gain relationships with my students, to help my students and to create the next generation of women scholars and Torah educators.”
Photo Caption: Prof. Nechama Price
Photo Credit: Nechama Price