RABBI SYBIL SHERIDAN
RABBI SHERIDAN has been co-rabbi — with Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild — at Wimbledon’s Reform congregation since 2002. Ordained at Leo Baeck College, she has also lectured there. She has written and edited books and has written extensively on Bible study, feminism and interfaith dialogue. She is Jewish Chaplain at Roehampton University and a consultant to the Catholic Bishops Conference on JewishCatholic relations.
Tell us about your family life
I am married to Rabbi Jonathan Romain [of Maidenhead Synagogue] and we have four sons, aged 17 to 24. I took extended maternity leave when my second son was born and then gradually returned to work, starting at a very small congregation. Sharing the job with another woman rabbi enables us both to spend time with our families and celebrate Shabbat and festivals at home as well as with our community. While a religious leader in shul, I am very much a traditional wife at home.
Tell us about a typical week
Rabbi Rothschild and I share the week. We both have Monday off. My focus is education, which includes two Hebrew classes, a “soup-to-nuts” Judaism course, a text class and adult study on Sundays. Rabbi Rothschild’s focus is pastoral care but we share the “soft” stuff — hospitals, home visits and Nightingale. We also share a commitment to social action and are involved in local homeless projects, asylum seekers and interfaith work. We alternate weekends, taking it in turns to lead Friday and Shabbat services, teach cheder and do Sunday weddings and stonesettings. Whoever takes the weekend “shift” is on call on Monday. What do you like best about your role? Being able to play to my strengths. No rabbi can do everything equally well. Our arrangement ensures the shul gets the best out of us both. Tell us what you do in your time off My main interests are education, social action and interfaith. I support Limmud, represent the Reform movement on the Jewish Social Justice Forum, as well as teaching in a variety of interfaith forums. I love music and head a committee compiling music for the new Reform siddur. My interests also include theatre and art. I am a ski fanatic, and enjoy walking and tennis.