Leeds' first woman rabbi steps up to the pulpit

December 23, 2013
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The first permanent woman rabbi for the Leeds community was celebrated with the induction of Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz at Sinai Synagogue on Sunday.

In his welcome to the 200 guests Sinai chair Nick Dyson commented on two firsts: “Rabbi Hugenholtz is our first assistant rabbi, and the first woman rabbi in Leeds.” The ceremony also marked the start of Sinai’s 70th anniversary celebration year.

The gathering included Sinai’s senior rabbi Ian Morris, London’s Rabbi Maurice Michaels and Van der Zyl, head of vocational studies at Leo Baeck College, where he taught Rabbi Hugenholtz — and from where she gained semichah in July.

Congregant Simon Marcus said: “Opening the Ark to pass the Sefer Torah from Rabbi Michaels to Nick Dyson, then on to Rabbi Morris and finally to Rabbi Hugenholtz was the most moving part of the ceremony.”

Rabbi Hugenholtz, 35, said she felt “honoured by the impressive turn-out of guests and members, allowing us to celebrate our vibrant community. I have been made to feel incredibly welcome.”

Her husband, Dave, 46, is an IT consultant. The Dutch-born couple moved to Leeds from Amersfoort in Holland when she took up the post in the spring. Their first child, Jonathan, was born in August.
The synagogue has 430 adult members.

Last updated: 11:45am, December 23 2013