RABBI SYBIL SHERIDAN

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY LIFE - WIM­BLE­DON SYN­A­GOGUE

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.

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