Shul gives women Torah role


An independent Progressive congregation has finally decided to lift restrictions on women being called up to and to read from the Torah.

Belsize Square Synagogue had resisted the full egalitarianism common to most Reform and Liberal communities.

In March last year, its board agreed that women up to the age of 21 could take part in the Torah service, as well women over 21 who were celebrating the anniversary of their batmitzvah.

Now further changes have been approved, which include allowing women full participation in the Torah service on Shabbat after the start of the new Jewish year and on festivals from next Pesach. Women will also be permitted to carry a scroll in a mixed procession on Simchat Torah.

In a letter to Belsize Square members, its co-chairmen John Abramson and Suzanne Goldstein said they believed the proposal “allows us to move forward as one unified community”.

Deborah Jay, whose daughter was recently batmitzvah at the synagogue, said the change was “a step in the right direction. If anyone has a daughter, they would not want them to have less of a role than their male counterpart.”

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