Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was one of only two men in the room at Borehamwood’s Yavneh College on Sunday as United Synagogue Women held their annual conference. The only other male among the 100 women was the chief’s security guard.
Rabbi Mirvis encouraged guests to embrace the “relationships” theme of the day of motivational discussions and workshops. “We need to look at our relationships, the relationships between ourselves and our family and our community.
“The spirit in which we are coming together is as a united synagogue — and let us never underestimate the power of the name we have. That is the only way we can take our wonderful religious organisation forward.”
Rebbetzins, shul chairs and charity supporters were among those taking part in sessions covering topics from leadership in the US to the power of prayer.
Dr Elana Stein Hain, an Orthodox community scholar at Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, addressed the conference after spending Shabbat at the Alei Tzion Synagogue in Hendon. Shul chair Michelle Bauernfreund said: “Although the communities in London and New York differ greatly, we believe we have a huge amount to learn from her and we aspire to build female role models of her calibre in our community.”
Dina Brawer, UK representative of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, spoke at the Southbank’s Women of the World Festival on Sunday. “It brought home the realisation that feminists are not all the same. A theme common to all faiths represented was that of a genderless God. Although God is seen as utterly transcendent, many individuals see God as male. Feminists who see themselves as equally valuable in the eyes of God are inspired to redress the balance.”