UK’s first Orthodox female pulpit rabbi confident that more change to come

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

UK’s first Orthodox female pulpit rabbi confident that more change to come

Miriam Lorie set to become Rabbi Lorie when she receives semicha in New York in June

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A woman about to graduate from Yeshivat Maharat in New York, Miriam Lorie, is poised to become Rabbi Lorie next month, one of the first group of Orthodox women to lead a community in the UK.

Ms Lorie says she has chosen to be known as “rabbi” rather than “rabba”, the title used by London School of Jewish Studies lecturer Lindsay Taylor-Gutharz, because “the word in Hebrew is not gendered. It simply means ‘teacher’, so it doesn’t need a gendered addition. And I think we’re at a place where women can take that title without the same controversy that it would have had a few years ago.”

Currently “rabbi-in-training” at Kehillat Nashira, the partnership minyan in Borehamwood, Rabbi-elect Lorie is optimistic about the pace of change within the Jewish community and the Orthodox world in general.

She told JN: “It is very hard to find halachic objections to women conducting life cycle events. Perhaps the only thing that might be called into question would be a wedding — and even so, a rabbi who conducts a wedding is a bit like a master of ceremonies role. You give the dvar Torah, but you’re not actually the one who marries the couple. They are married by having two witnesses, having the ketubah, the ring, and the right combination of words at the right time. So if I conducted everything in the halachic way, which I have been taught to do, I don’t think even that could be called into question.”

The Chief Rabbi has previously sent a message to United Synagogue rabbis and rebbetzins about partnership minyanim, telling them that such services could not be held in US congregations. He said there was “virtually complete consensus within the Orthodox rabbinate” on the matter.

But the future Rabbi Lorie was more confident that there was a shift in opinion — “even within the United Synagogue”. She said: “I think the fact that we are struggling to find halachic objections to life cycle  events indicates that it is very hard to find halachic objections to women becoming rabbis.” There was increasingly, she said, “a recognition that in the world we are living in, women are judges and lawyers and doctors”. It did not make sense to say women could not have that level of authority within Judaism.

And she was hopeful that within the next decade the idea of partnership minyanim would be accepted within the United Synagogue, which she praised for “working very hard” to improve the role of women in its lay structure.

Three other British-based women are currently enrolled in the Yeshivat Maharat training programme and will graduate in the next few years.




Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: