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Rabbis condemn Golders Green Synagogue after women hold Torah scroll

    A United Synagogue congregation which allows women to hold a Sefer Torah has defended itself following an attack from the Orthodox right.

    Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, had condemned the practice as “Reform-influenced”.

    But Professor Benny Chain, chairman of Golders Green United Synagogue, said he had been amazed at the warm reaction to the shul’s efforts to involve women more in the service.

    Under the new practice, introduced earlier this year on Shabbat mornings and festivals, the Torah is taken out of the ark by a man and handed to a woman, who takes it around the women’s section before returning it to the men.

    In a statement, Rabbi Padwa described women handling the Torah as “breaches of this nature” that came “from the influence of the Reform”.

    But Professor Chain said that it had been a “successful” experiment.

    “People have said what an emotional experience it is and that they feel much more involved in the service.”

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