British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Slams Orthodox Shuls for Letting Women Lead Services

Partnership Minyans 'Not Something That Can Take Place'

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By JTA

Published December 19, 2013.
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British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis called on Orthodox synagogues to ban partnership minyan services, where women can lead services and read from the Torah.

Mirvis said in a message sent to rabbinic leaders Wednesday that the services were “not something that can take place within our synagogues,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

“I know that you are working with our communities to find ways, within the boundaries of halacha, to make prayer, learning, leadership and involvement more meaningful for men and women alike, and I encourage this wholeheartedly,” Mirvis wrote. “Some of you, together with members of our communities, have approached me for direction with respect to holding services which take an approach different from our traditional understanding of roles in communal prayer, particularly where women would lead a service including a minyan of men, read from the Torah or receive aliyot.

Britain’s umbrella body of Orthodox communities, The United Synagogue, has previously expressed its concern over the phenomenon of partnership minyans.

Last month, The United Synagogue condemned the Golders Green United Synagogue for allowing women to handle the Torah on Shabbat and holidays. In that synagogue, the Torah is taken out of the ark by a man and handed to a woman, who takes it around the women’s section before returning it to the men.

Mirvis recently supported the idea of women becoming trustees of the United Synagogue and lay leaders of synagogues, according to the Chronicle.

Next week, Mirvis will become the first sitting chief rabbi of Britain to attend the Limmud conference, which features lectures, workshops and debates on Jewish issues led by people from all walks of Jewish life. Haredi Orthodox rabbis in Britain in a letter in October condemned anyone who attended Limmud for blurring “the distinction between authentic Judaism and pseudo-Judaism” and said attendance would “bring about tragic consequences for Anglo Jewry. ”


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