Women to lead prayers at partnership minyan

By Simon Rocker, September 2, 2013

A new Orthodox minyan where women can lead some of the prayers is to launch in Borehamwood in the autumn. It will be the first such minyan to be held on a regular basis in the UK and follows a one-off “partnership minyan” in Golders Green in June.

Borehamwood Partnership Minyan co-chair Miriam Lorie said: “For the UK, it’s a very exciting step forward. I don’t think it is radical if you take the global view, because partnership minyans have been going on in Israel and America for quite some years.”

The plan is to meet monthly in members’ homes or local halls, alternating between Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning services.

Mrs Lorie said a “pool of 100 men and women” had expressed interest in taking part. “It is an independent minyan started by a group of people who feel there is space for this kind of minyan in our community.”

There would be “little difference” from an established Orthodox service, she explained. “We follow an Orthodox siddur. There will be a mechitzah and the minyan will be made up of 10 men.

“Women will be able to do certain parts of the service — Kabbalat Shabbat, leyning, receiving aliyot, Pesukei Dezimra [the opening morning prayers] and Hallel.” She attended the Golders Green minyan in summer and has been to Shira Hadasha, an Orthodox feminist congregation in Jerusalem.

The United Synagogue rabbinate has previously expressed concern about the introduction of partnership minyans. But the Borehamwood group will be following the guidance of British-born Israeli Talmud professor Rabbi Daniel Sperber and other rabbis.

Mrs Lorie said that, in the run-up to the first service in November, “we are going to have a programme of learning and studying the sources behind partnership minyans”.

The aim would be “to create an uplifting and soulful shul experience. In the general Orthodox community, there is a massive untapped spirituality on the part of both men and women and we’d like to address that with this minyan.”

Last updated: 12:30pm, September 2 2013