Rabbi Shares Her #MeToo Moment About Sexual Harassment At Shul by the Forward

Rabbi Shares Her #MeToo Moment About Sexual Harassment At Shul

Image by Alyth

A rabbi at one of the largest synagogues in the United Kingdom came forward last week with details of sexual harassment that she and female rabbinic colleagues had received from their own congregants, urging the community to pay closer attention to the issue.

Rabbi Hannah Kingston of North Western Reform Synagogue in London said in her sermon that amid the current public conversations about sexual harassment and assault, “One very close colleague of mine relived the moment that she found out that she was known by her congregants as ‘the rabbi with the nice legs.’ She said that after that she took to wearing trousers.”

Kingston has had similar experiences on a “weekly basis,” she told the Jewish Chronicle: “I can lead an entire service and have someone come up to me at the end and say: ‘oh you look pretty today.’ That wouldn’t happen to a male colleague and it completely degrades what I’ve spent two hours talking about. It happens weekly.”

Kingston told the paper that she was originally “scared” about speaking out. “When we come forward and speak about sexual harassment we are letting our humanity show in a way that we might normally try to protect,” she explained. But ultimately, she concluded, “To ignore this issue as a female rabbi would have been a disservice to my community.”

Kingston’s sermon was tied to the Torah portion recounting the death of Sarah. “What we see through the narrative of Sarah is a woman who is silenced,” she said. “Her own story is supressed, she is not listened to….Not once do we consider how Sarah might feel about [being taken into Pharaoh’s palace] or what it could do to a woman to be passed so easily on to another man.”

The synagogue held an event on Wednesday for community members to talk about their experiences with sexual harassment.

“We will see that our tradition has asked the question of how to respond to sexual harassment many times before,” she said in her sermon. “It is time for us to continue this work.”

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

Author

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink is the Deputy News Editor for the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink .

Rabbi Shares #MeToo Moment: Sexual Harassment At Shul

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Rabbi Shares Her #MeToo Moment About Sexual Harassment At Shul

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close