Col­lected thoughts of women rab­bis

The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM - SI­MON ROCKER

Women Rab­bis in the Pul­pit Edited by Rabbi Dr Bar­bara Borts and Rabbi Elli Tik­vah Sarah Kul­mus, £9.99

IT RE­MAINS a para­dox that for many con­gre­gants the high­light of the Shab­bat morn­ing ser­vice is not ac­tu­ally in the prayer­book — and I don’t mean the whisky and fish­balls. The rabbi’s ser­mon is not a for­mal part of the liturgy but it is of­ten the mo­ment we look for­ward to be­ing stirred, en­light­ened, even el­e­vated — guided across the bridge be­tween an­cient text and the world we live in.

This lively and thought­ful col­lec­tion was pub­lished at the end of last year to mark the 40th an­niver­sary of the or­di­na­tion of the UK’s first woman rabbi, Jackie Tabick (and 80 years af­ter the first in Europe, Regina Jonas). It con­tains con­tri­bu­tions from most of the 55 women who have re­ceived semichah from Lon­don’s Leo Baeck­Col­legein­clud­ing Rabbi Tabick her­self, plus a fore­word from Amer­ica’s first fe­male rabbi, Sally Priesand, who pre­ceded her by three years.

The­mat­i­cally, they range from so­cial con­cerns with refugees or main­tain­ing a re­la­tion­ship with Is­rael when some of the ac­tions of its govern­ment trou­ble us to try to find mean­ing in rit­ual or spirituality in prac­tice.

Some are in­spired by in­ci­dents in life, oth­ers from tra­di­tional cus­toms such as the bless­ing of the Priests or leav­ing bare a cor­ner of a wall to re­mem­ber the de­struc­tion of the Tem­ple. Oth­ers con­cen­trate on close read­ings of a verse in the To­rah. Along with ci­ta­tions of Tal­mud and Midrash, there are ref­er­ences to Leonard Co­hen and Gen­e­sis.

While the au­thors may be Pro­gres­sive, the con­tent of most of the con­tri­bu­tions is not de­nom­i­na­tion­ally re­stric­tive — al­though one or two are at the cut­ting-edge of iden­tity is­sues, such as that from the trans­gen­der Rabbi Indigo Jonah Raphael (for­merly Rabbi Melinda Carr).

For­give me if I do not re­veal my per­sonal favourites. For would-be ser­mon-givers, this will be a help­ful hand­book, while if your own rabbi is hav­ing an off-day in the pul­pit or you over­sleep on Shab­bat morn­ing, you might en­joy hav­ing this to hand.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.