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Britain’s Chief Rabbi Calls for Ban on Women Reading from Torah

By: JTA

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has called on Orthodox synagogues to ban “partnership” minyan services, where women can lead prayers and read from the Torah.

“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,” Rabbi Mirvis wrote, Rabbi Mirvis wrote a message sent to rabbinic leaders Wednesday. However, he added that the services were “not something that can take place within our synagogues,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

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.

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20 Responses to “Britain’s Chief Rabbi Calls for Ban on Women Reading from Torah”

  1. David Green says:

    I strongly disagree with the chief rabbi

  2. Max Aaron says:

    It is not a woman’s mitzva to lein from the Torah. They may study it but they cannot lein from it in a service, women are not obligated to do so in Jewish law but they have their own mitzvot just like men have their own mitzvot, this is a man’s mitzvah. What the Chief Rabbi is calling for is in line with Jewish law.

  3. Sigh. Technically true. Why do women long for men’s mitzvot, while men do not long for men’s?

  4. Mira Murray says:

    Its men making the rules again!!

  5. Roberta Steigerwald Eicher it is because society values the exterior more than the interior. Because people can see someone leining from the Torah. They cannot see the mitzvahs commanded to women because they mostly revolve around the home

  6. Myriam Obadia says:

    I couldn't care less about reading from the Torah in the synagogue, as long as I can study it as much as I am able to, However, I respectfully disagree with the Rabbi's ban. True, women are not obliged to do it, but the only formal interdiction is for a woman touching the Torah while she menstruates. If the time of menstruation is mentioned in the Halacha, it follows that the rest of the time a woman may read from the Torah whenever it doesn't interfere with her other mitzvot. For example, a woman who isn't yet a mother, or who is done with raising children, may have the time to do do and I don't think a mere Rabbi -no matter how "Great"- can forbid women to do something Hashem didn't see to forbid them.

  7. David Green says:

    With the right music motivating me , housework CAN have its moments.( as for changing diapers , I shared THAT responsibility too !!)

  8. Good thing I’m not a Religious British Orthodox Jew stuck in the last couple of centuries ago. People, People, lighten up!! Move forward! KADIMA!

  9. I am not Orthodox, and with attitudes like this I will likely never be. Hashem knows what I have in my Neshumah, and he knows in my heart and soul I am a Jew. I despise extremism as well as elitism. I applaud inclusivity. I detest exclusivity. The old “roles” for men and women are blurred now, and I think that might be a good thing.

  10. Sharon Knecht Biller, I agree. So, do you think women should value the mitzvot they have been given, and give up those that have not been given? Is it a prideful heart that seeks the leining? Are the mitzvot the same as a job, that man and woman can perform equally well, or is there something special within the mitzvot themselves that cannot be fulfilled as well by one as well as the other?

  11. We say every morning in Birchas haShachar ” Blessed are you Hashem for making me according to your will”. It doesn’t mean we are less than men, just differently made. By the way, I am a feminist, and believe that women deserve to be treated equally and respectfully. It does not mean that G- d does not recognize our innate differences.

  12. Larry E Cohen says:

    We'll here we go again. Now we (as Jews) will be once again compared to Islam, by people that look for any excuse to slam Jews. This has been a fight in our religion for a loooong time and the the chief Rabbi wants to set it back again. Sorry Rabbi, but the genie is already out of the bottle. Time to come into the 21st century.

  13. Larry E Cohen says:

    We'll here we go again. Now we (as Jews) will be once again compared to Islam, by people that look for any excuse to slam Jews. This has been a fight in our religion for a loooong time and the the chief Rabbi wants to set it back again. Sorry Rabbi, but the genie is already out of the bottle. Time to come into the 21st century.

  14. The Rabbi should also say that that the bris Tsiporah gave to Moshe's son — we read about it this week — was utterly pasool. May be we should also surrender to Sisra bc the victory over his army was also pasool being led by a woman. Let us also revive Sisra bc Yael killed him. May be King Yohshiyahu was wrong to seek the interpretation of Hulda for sefer Dvarim. And what a shandeh at the Red Sea when Miriam and the women sang in public, even in tandem with the men. May be we should be recognized in the synagogue only as the son of the father and shun the name of the mother, and may be the Rabbi forgot what he red in Megilah 23a (a woman can get an aliya among the seven on Shabbat)…. Get a life, Rabbi

  15. Brent Albala says:

    Agree with you. Totally. (As the father of three girls!)

  16. This is why I have very little respect for the men in the Rabbinate.

  17. If you don't want to be Orthodox, then go to a Reform shul. You'll get all the "equality" you want. Leave the Orthodox alone!

  18. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing halachically wrong with women reading the Torah, just not in a mixed service of men and women. Please report it correctly.

  19. Bill Bilek says:

    But it is exactly modern ORTHODOX women who are looking to participate in services where, while it may not be an obligation or a mitzvah, it is clearly NOT against Halacha.

  20. Bill, feminists are welcome to open their own shul. I doubt anyone would like it if the Orthodox started insisting that the Reform put up a mechitzah, so why is it OK for the Left to try and force changes on Orthodoxy – especially when they already have plenty of other options? Orthodoxy is the last bastion of halacha. They should leave it alone if they don't feel like it suits their tastes. Orthodoxy is not about what makes you "feel good", it's about doing G-d's will. Period.

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