Jewish News: Orthodox leaders back Chief Rabbi in female rabbi dispute
June 29, 2021

By Josh Salisbury, Jewish News

Orthodox figures from America have backed the Chief Rabbi in a row over female  rabbis after a woman lost her teaching job after gaining ordination.

The Rabbinical Alliance of America, which represents 950 rabbis, voiced their support for Rabbi Mirvis after Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz lost her position at the London School of Jewish Studies after graduating from the Yeshivat Maharat in New York.

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The school is run under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi, who maintains that while women can take part in senior positions in religious life, being a rabbi is not open to them.

The RAA has backed Rabbi Mirvis in the dispute, saying: “Jewish tradition takes precedence over secular values and practices,” The Coalition for Jewish Values, which calls itself the largest Rabbinic Public Policy organisation in America, has also pledged its support with the Chief Rabbi.

“As Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Mirvis is expected to uphold fealty to Torah, and any opprobrium directed his way for his decision is inappropriate,” said CVJ’s Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer.

Rabbi Mirvis had been criticised by a number of rabbis from the Reform and Liberal traditions in the UK, who had accused him of upholding a “glass ceiling of Torah.”

Taylor-Guthartz had taught at the school for sixteen years, and had offered not to use the title of ‘rabba’ in a compromise move.

She has since called for Orthodoxy to adapt to allow women rabbis. “There is a crying need for it here,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

“There are many women who need to be able to talk to a woman who knows Jewish law, who can advise them, who can help them.”

In recent days, LSJS has publicly extended an olive branch to Taylor-Guthartz, telling its students that it was working to find an “acceptable” solution for all concerned.

“We continue to seek an acceptable way ahead but cannot provide a running commentary as this will only disrespect all parties concerned,” said LSJS chief executive, Joanne Greenaway.

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