Loughton Federation Synagogue has chosen a woman, Barbara Cohen, to chair its administrative board of management. But the position is not equivalent to a synagogue chairman.
Unlike the United Synagogue, which has recently allowed women to chair congregations, women in the Federation cannot serve as synagogue officers.
Separate from the administrative board, Loughton will have a male-only strategy board.
This is in accordance with a ruling drawn up five years ago by the head of the Federation’s Beth Din, Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein. This allows women a larger role within their synagogues and, among the options, Dayan Lichtenstein suggested that one would be to split the board of management into two — one to deal with religious issues and a second to focus on non-religious matters.
The board on religious issues would remain a male preserve.
“There would be an upper tier and a lower tier,” he explained this week. “Women can serve on the lower tier.”
Another option would be to elect women to a single board of management as long as there remained a male majority.
This alternative was recently adopted by another Federation synagogue, Yeshurun in Edgware, which elected five women to its 12-member board.