US VOTES WOMEN IN
IT MAY not have been as revolutionary as women bishops, but Britain’s largest Orthodox synagogue group took a historic step last night by voting women on to its executive.
Claire Lemer of Hampstead, Leonie Lewis and Doreen Samuels of Pinner and Jacqui Zinkin of Golders Green defeated two other candidates for the seats reserved for women as United Synagogue trustees.
Dr Lemer, awarded the British Empire Medal in last month’s Birthday Honours, said: “It’s wonderful to be part of an historic occasion, and I am delighted the new trustee board represents so well the diversity that makes the US such a unique organisation.”
US president, Stephen Pack of Hadley Wood, was elected unopposed for a second three-year term. He announced to loud applause the organisation’s “very first set of female honorary officers”.
Brian Markeson (Watford) became treasurer, while Stephen Fenton (Bushey), Russell Kett (Belmont) and Stephen Goldman (Edgware) beat four other male contenders for the remaining posts.
Women had previously attended trustee meetings as observers. The move follows the election of the first female chairmen of local US synagogues last year. This spring, 11 female synagogue chairmen were elected, along with 17 vice-chairmen.
Mrs Samuels said: “Everything I believe one should be a trustee for has come to pass because we have equal representation of women and we have got two new trustees under the age of 40.”
Mr Pack’s efforts to encourage younger faces to take a role in the running of the US were rewarded with the election of Dr Lemer, 37 and Mr Goldman, 38. Mr Goldman said he was shocked but happy at the result.
It was also the first trustee election where US council members could vote online, with 92 choosing the electronic option and 58 preferring the more traditional method of putting a ballot paper in a box.