Women take ‘big step’ with Torah dance
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.