London synagogue slammed by UK Jewish Orthodox authorities for allowing women to hold the Torah
An umbrella body of Jewish Orthodox communities in Britain has publicly criticised a London Orthodox synagogue that allows its female members to hold Torah scrolls.
According to Haaretz, earlier in 2013 Golders Green United Synagogue began giving women the opportunity to hold and handle the Torah scroll on Shabbat mornings and religious festivals. According to the shul's charmain, Benny Chain, the change was well recieved by members of the community. The Torah was initially taken out of the ark by a man and handed to a woman, who took it into the female section of the synagogue before returning it to the men.
However, this inclusive Torah policy has got some British Orthodox Jews riled up - Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, slammed the Golders Green United Synagogue and called their fraternizing “reform-influenced,” the Jewish Chronicle of London reported, according to Haaretz. Padwa, showing zero flexibility and desire to make Judaism a more inclusive religion said said “breaches of this nature” came “from the influence of the Reform,” the newspaper article added.
The practice of women holding the Torah scroll may be uncommon but it is not unheard of and certainly is not disallowed in Orthodox synagogues - according to Haaretz, a growing number of American Orthodox shuls allow women to "hold and dance with the Torah scrolls on Simchat Torah".
“People have said what an emotional experience it is and that they feel much more involved in the service,” Chain said of his shul’s change, Haaretz reported.
What do you think of Golders Green's move towards inclusion?