Radlett women want more 'passion' in synagogue

By Jay Grenby, May 6, 2010
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Radlett members at a megillah reading by women for women at Purim — now the ladies are seeking further improvements in the shul experience

Radlett members at a megillah reading by women for women at Purim — now the ladies are seeking further improvements in the shul experience

Radlett women want "more passion" - in their shul services.

A survey at the United shul also identified demand for livelier and more tuneful services featuring female as well as male speakers. The women further responded that segregation made them feel "marginalised and unvalued".

The survey, conducted anonymously on the community's website, was designed to determine "how the women members experienced shul and what could improve the experience for them". Views were additionally sought on the shul experience of their batmitzvah age daughters and on the recital of kaddish by women.

"Our aim was to show that women in shul want more than simply to be a member of the kiddush rota," said Radlett Board member Debbie Hougie. "And while there were no real surprises in the responses - the majority of which came from regular shul-goers between the ages of 35 and 54 - the survey did highlight the fact that women still want more out of their shul-going."

Despite halachic constraints, respondents felt there was scope to improve their involvement, such as help in following the service. Taking a greater role would provide their daughters with positive role models. A majority of the respondents who had suffered bereavement wanted to say kaddish at the time of their yahrzeit.

Mothers were keen for the batmitzvah ceremony to take centre stage in the service, rather than being squeezed in as an afterthought.

"Radlett has always been a trail-blazer in promoting the woman's role in shul activities," Mrs Hougie pointed out. "We were the very first United Synagogue congregation to elect a female vice-chairman, back in 2001, when Gill Stella took on the post, and we have had two further female vice-chairs since then. Next year sees the 10th anniversary of our pioneering and immensely successful annual Purim megillah reading in shul for women by women."

Although the board will consider their views,"with the impending departure of minister Rabbi Ariel Abel, no immediate action can be taken".

    Last updated: 11:53am, May 6 2010