North West Surrey Synagogue held two days of activities to mark the retirement of Jackie Tabick, Britain’s first woman rabbi.
Delivering the sermon at a Shabbat service, Reform’s movement rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner described Rabbi Tabick as a role model, “being knowledgeable and passionate about Judaism and the Jewish people”. NWSS chairman Ann Antrich said that the minister, who had served the Weybridge community for 15 years, “will be missed hugely”.
There was also a play about Rabbi Tabick’s life written by Lawrence Smith and performed by synagogue members. “It was very funny,” the minister said.
The second day featured a celebration of the synagogue’s restored Klatovy Torah scroll, which had survived the Holocaust.
“We asked the scribe to have the scroll ready for the weekend,” Rabbi Tabick explained. “He worked all night to get things ready.”
As retirement “is not in my vocabulary”, Rabbi Tabick will continue as convenor of the Reform movement’s Beit Din and also for the European Union for Progressive Judaism. She is also involved in interfaith initiatives and is co-president of the World Congress of Faiths, roles she now plans to embrace more fully. When a congregational rabbi, she “didn’t have the time to go galavanting around Europe”.
NWSS services are now being conducted by lay members and the shul executive will begin the search for a new minister for the 340-member community after the High Holy-Days.