The organisers of a first-ever all-female Kabbalat Shabbat service at a leading Orthodox synagogue have said they hope it is the first of many events to help women become more engaged in shul life.
Tonight’s inaugural service at Edgware United Synagogue in North West London will be the “culmination of six months’ work” by a dedicated committee of six members, according to spokeswoman Jane Myers.
Their aim is to address the low attendance rates among women and girls at Friday night services — and more generally to foster an atmosphere of inclusion.
Mrs Myers said there had been “a mix” of views among female congregants about the initiative, which is backed by the shul’s minister, Rabbi David Lister.
She said: “Some of the women are very keen, and some have said it’s not for them. I have had one lady who said she disagreed with it but she was very much in the minority.
“The issue is that we are potentially losing girls and women from our community, and we want to keep them, and keep them engaged.
“We thought about how we could inspire our female members — especially the younger ones — and this is just one of the outcomes from that.”
The United Synagogue communities of Alei Tzion, Barnet, Hadley Wood, Golders Green, St John’s Wood, Woodside Park, Mill Hill and Muswell Hill have already conducted female-only Friday night services.
Rabbi Lister said: “If it means more people want to come and assemble to daven, of course it can only be a good thing.
“If it is in the spirit of halachah, and it is not done to tear up everything we hold sacred, then it has my full support.”