Women take ‘big step’ with To­rah dance

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY SANDY RASHTY

WOMEN CAR­RIED Sifrei To­rah at Bore­ham­wood and El­stree United Syn­a­gogue on Sim­chat To­rah in what is de­scribed as “a big step” for­ward.

On Mon­day, the shul’s kid­dush hall was equally di­vided by a me­chitzah, with around 200 men on one side and 100 women on the other.

While men led the singing, at least 15 women took the op­por­tu­nity to dance with a To­rah dur­ing the hakafot, among them Rabbi Chaim Kan­terovitz’s wife, Bianca, and his mother, Malka.

Syn­a­gogue chair Anne Gor­don, who also held a To­rah, ad­mit­ted that not all con­gre­gants were com­fort­able with the move.

“Peo­ple do not like change. I think some will see this as a big step, but Rabbi Kan­terovitz made it clear that there is no ha­lachic is­sue with women hold­ing the Se­fer.

“We are not try­ing to change the world. We are just try­ing to do what we think is best for our com­mu­nity.

“I had a huge amount of pos­i­tive feed­back, in­clud­ing from those who had no in­ter­est in danc­ing with the Se­fer but were not of­fended by the fact that it was there.

“One young re­li­gious woman came up to me af­ter­wards and said: ‘I don’t want to hold a Se­fer, but I think it’s a fan­tas­ti­cally in­clu­sive evening.’”

Bore­ham­wood and El­stree con­gre­gant Re­becca Schapira, 25, wel­comed the move.

She said that “for women who live and learn the To­rah, it was ex­tremely mean­ing­ful.

“I am proud that Bore­ham­wood shul is lead­ing the way. All US shuls should fol­low their ex­am­ple.”

Last year, Bore­ham­wood, which has more than 2,500 mem­bers, held a women’s hakafot in a sep­a­rate room to the main ser­vice.

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