Strong support for quotas on women leaders

By Jessica Elgot, May 17, 2012
Follow Jessica on Twitter

A third of British Jews believe Jewish organisations should positively discriminate in favour of senior female candidates in top positions through set quotas, a survey has found.

And almost 90 per cent of British Jews believe women should be able to chair and be trustees of synagogues - despite a continued stalemate on the issue.

Responding to the survey of 1,600 people by the Jewish Leadership Council's Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership, a US spokesperson acknowledged "broad communal agreement" on the issue. This was reflected in the survey, in which 88 per cent of respondents believed women should be able to chair synagogues.

Former US president Simon Hochhauser, who has been outspoken in his support for further equality, said in March last year: "The Chief Rabbi has said that he does not wish to change the situation during his current chief rabbinate." Both candidates for US president made manifesto pledges to allow female chairs.

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said he commended the commission's efforts, adding: "In the past 20 years, there has been more progress than ever before in relation to the involvement of women across a variety of areas."

CWJL chair Laura Marks said the commission would not be directly addressing the issue of shul chairmanships. "We included it in the survey because it's indicative of a desire for change."

Appetite for major change is strong among British Jews, according to the survey. Ms Marks said she was "surprised" by how many people would be willing to support quotas and said it showed the strength of feeling.

Last updated: 10:33am, May 17 2012