Ordain women, rabbi urges the Archbishop

One of the UK's leading Progressive rabbis has intervened in the Church of England's debate over women bishops, urging the Archbishop of Canterbury: "For goodness sake, ordain them".

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), St John's Wood, for the past six years, made her appeal in an open letter to Dr Rowan Williams.

The Church of England Synod - its governing lay council - reaffirmed its support this week for ordaining women bishops, although without a timetable. Traditionalists have threatened to leave the Church if the plan goes ahead.

Rabbi Wright, the seventh female rabbi to be ordained in the UK, in 1986, wrote: "Archbishop, you have some of the finest women working as priests in the Church of England. For goodness sake, ordain them as bishops. They are the lifeblood of a Church whose future must be built not on the biological origins of the founder of your religion, but on the Jewish values that taught him to love his neighbour as himself and to see in all humanity the image of God."

Recalling her own experiences as the first female senior rabbi of LJS in its 100-year history, she said, "the roof did not cave in".

She wrote: "Does God really want us to perpetuate the discrimination and prejudice that existed towards women during the period of the Roman occupation of Judea or the Crusades? Both of our scriptures and the rabbinic tradition are often threatened by the power that women seem to hold over men…"

And she declared: "Why can't we lay the skeletons of social prejudices and archaic attitudes to rest and accept that none of us can do without the contributions of women and men in our religious communities?"

    Last updated: 11:50am, July 15 2010