Stanmore women meet in shul at last

By Simon Rocker, September 15, 2011

An Orthodox women's prayer group will congregate for the first time on synagogue premises this Saturday after having to meet elsewhere for 18 years.

The Stanmore Women's Tefilah Group - now known as Women's Learning Experience - was banned from holding women-only Shabbat services in the synagogue by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

Stanmore Synagogue vice-chair Jackie Rudolph said they could now meet in the shul as "they changed emphasis from purely davening, which is what they did before, to being learning-based".

Leaders at Stanmore, the biggest US congregation, were "very supportive of bringing all members of our community under one roof. What they are doing is meeting a need for a certain sector of women in the community."

The group had met periodically in local halls after the Chief Rabbi overruled the then Stanmore rabbi, Jeffrey Cohen, who had given the go-ahead for women's services.

The group had 'changed emphasis from purely davening'

Lord Sacks said that women's prayer meetings could not take place on the synagogue premises at the same time as regular services and could not use a Sefer Torah.

He wrote at the time: "To locate private prayer in a congregational environment would be divisive and infringe several of the rules governing synagogue custom."

Last updated: 3:16pm, September 15 2011