Women could become trustees of the United Synagogue for the first time after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis approved the idea of female members standing for election as trustees of Britain’s main central Orthodox body.
Following consultation with the London Beth Din, the Chief Rabbi has given the green light for women well in advance of next summer’s elections for the lay leadership of the US.
Rabbi Mirvis said that he was “delighted” at the move. “This is an important development, emphasising the central position of women in our communities and the significant contribution they make,” he said.
US president Stephen Pack was said he was pleased “to see the Chief Rabbi delivering on his stated aim of advancing the role of women within the United Synagogue. It’s also great to see the Chief Rabbi working closely with his Beth Din on these important matters.”
For the immediate future, the presidency of the US is likely to remain in male hands.
As well as president, the US currently has six other trustee-officers. In recent years, women have had a say in policy-making, with four of them now attending trustee meetings as observers.
It is understood that the changes agreed by Rabbi Mirvis will result in an equal number of trustee places reserved for men and women — as is the case on local synagogue boards of management.
The move follows last year’s decision — reached under Rabbi Mirvis’s predecessor Lord Sacks — to allow women to chair their local congregations, leading to election of the first female synagogue chairmen this spring.
Rabbi Mirvis said: “We have a new generation of young leaders, both male and female, and I am excited at the prospect of more of them getting involved at local synagogue level and within the trustee body.”