Marks to ask: where are women in Anglo-Jewry?

Laura Marks

Laura Marks

Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks is to chair a new commission to investigate why there are so few women in leadership roles in Anglo-Jewry.

She will head a panel of nine, to include the only two female members on the 29-strong Jewish Leadership Council: Manchester Jewish Rep Council president Lucille Cohen and Wizo chair Michele Vogel.

Ms Marks said: "The Jewish community is blessed with highly educated, dynamic women, but for many reasons, they are a tiny minority when it comes to communal leadership.

"This is a serious problem, not just for women but for our whole community which would be so much the richer, more diverse, and genuinely more rounded were women to be better represented."

The under-representation of women is apparent in the leading Jewish charities: UJIA, JNF UK, World Jewish Relief, Jewish Care and Norwood. Of 63 trustee places overall, there are just 13 women. None of the five is chaired by a woman.

United Synagogue president Simon Hochhauser this week bewailed the continuing refusal of its rabbinic authorities to allow women to become trustees or president of the US or serve as chairs of their synagogue.

The seven male trustees of the US have co-opted three women observers. Some synagogues, Dr Hochhauser said, were effectively run by their woman vice-chairman, in lieu of a
chairman.

He added: "The Chief Rabbi has said that he does not wish to change the situation during his current chief rabbinate but he leaves it open to a future Chief Rabbi if he so wishes."

Neither the Reform Movement, Liberal Judaism, nor Masorti synagogues is currently chaired by a woman.

    Last updated: 12:56pm, March 24 2011