EXCLUSIVE: Female rabbi given back her research role at London School of Jewish Studies

Rabba Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz 'delighted' after LSJS says its academic fellows ‘are not religious appointments’ 


Flags flying outside Parliament. One is to commemorate ‘Armed Forces Day’.

The London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) is give back Rabba Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz her research role after she was dropped by the college in mid-June following her ordination as an Orthodox rabbi at a New York yeshivah.

Rabba Dr Taylor-Guthartz’s exit from LSJS triggered a storm across the Jewish world. Hampstead Synagoge’s Rabbi Dr Michael Harris resigned from the school in protest while Orthodox figures across America spoke out in support of the LSJS president, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who made clear her ordination meant it was impossible for her to continue with a formal role at an Orthodox institution.  

In a statement issued on Tuesday, LSJS said that after in-depth discussions over the past two weeks, it had concluded that “our academic fellows are not religious appointments — and therefore should be made on the basis of academic merit”.

Rabba Dr Taylor-Guthartz told the JC: “What a surprise! I am very pleased, very happy to go back to teaching my lovely students and to be with my lovely colleagues. I am very grateful to LSJS for making this happen”.

The college said it had been at the forefront of women’s education in the UK over the last three decades, and that “advancing both women’s Torah learning and leadership to the fullest extent possible in accordance with mainstream Orthodox practice is a fundamental part of LSJS’s mission”. 

Chief Rabbi Mirvis had made clear that “the ordination of women remains outside the boundaries of mainstream Orthodox practice, a position that we uphold at LSJS”. 

But the college said that “each institution under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi has the discretion to invite lecturers of their choosing, to teach as part of their respective programmes”, and that LSJS, “as the central body for training teachers in our community, has a remit that reaches beyond a religious function, providing high level academic studies through its degrees and teacher training programmes”.

The debate over Dr Taylor-Guthartz, who was ordained at the New York-based Yeshiva Maharat, had “challenged us to re-examine what it means to be dually a religious institution guided by the Chief Rabbi and also an academic institution, upholding its academic freedom”.

LSJS had consulted with many academics in leading Orthodox Jewish institutions, including both Yeshiva University in America and Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. The college said it was “delighted to restore Dr Taylor-Guthartz’s academic Research Fellowship”.

This piece was edited. The original version said that Rabba Taylor-Guthartz had been given back her teaching role. She has, in fact, been given back her research role

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