Chief Rabbi Mirvis aims to boost shul roles for women with new officer
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Chief Rabbi Mirvis aims to boost shul roles for women with new officer

New position will try to improve engagement of women in community life with a focus on the shul service

The Chief Rabbi with the graduates of the Ma'aynot Project for female Jewish leaders. Picture credit: Blake Ezra Photography
The Chief Rabbi with the graduates of the Ma'aynot Project for female Jewish leaders. Picture credit: Blake Ezra Photography

The Chief Rabbi this week announced the creation of the new role of women’s officer to improve the way women experience Orthodox services.

The post will operate through constituent United Synagogues (US) and it is anticipated the woman who fills the role will be an honorary officer in her shul.

Ephraim Mirvis says it is important to improve the engagement of women in community life – and particularly in synagogue services.

The plan is for member synagogues of the US to tailor the role to the needs of their congregation.

The women’s officer could be the point of contact for women, and offer guidance and support during the service. She may be involved in planning “women-friendly” times of services so events can be repeated to allow women to attend and could also be the liaison to alert synagogue wardens to those women who wish to recite kaddish or “bensch Gomel”.

Working with a synagogue’s rabbinic team will be of paramount importance in helping to develop work on issues which relate to, or might affect, women.

The Chief Rabbi’s vision of a women’s officer role includes having the post formally incorporated in the US by-laws.  This was due to be done this week when the plan was laid before the US Council.

As the role is likely to differ from synagogue to synagogue, the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the US will hold two information sessions, one on 20 November at 8.30pm, and the second on 2 December at 10.30am, attended by representatives of both bodies to answer questions.

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