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‘Is Knowledge Power? Orthodox Jewish Women’s Authority in the 21st Century’

Lindsay Simmonds
Panel Discussion with our
Scholar in Residence
Lindsay Simmonds

“The male attempt to equate one point of view with objective truth by the appeal to pure reason is… just another way of privileging its partial knowledge and imposing it on everyone else.” So said Professor Tamar Ross in her important book ‘Expanding the Palace of Torah’. One may agree or disagree with Professor Ross, but the issues of knowledge and power for women in the Jewish community are crucial. Come along and hear our panel discussion.

This panel will discuss how we might respond to 21st century educational opportunities for women within the orthodox Jewish community and share the arguments generated by this phenomenon: should it be embraced, mandated, rejected or vilified? How does access to sacred texts empower orthodox women? What religious leadership opportunities ought to be open to them or created for them? And why is the UK’s religious education for girls and women so different from similar communities in the US and Israel?


Jo Greenaway

Joanne has the privilege of working in the London Beth Din as Get Caseworker in a newly created role focusing on difficult divorce cases, working with the Dayanim and the Registrar.  This involves advising on both civil and Jewish legal systems and the interrelationship between the two and devising new strategies to deal with recalcitrant parties.  She is also involved with child protection in the United Synagogue. She is a current participant of the newly created Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme for training women to be high-level educators for the Jewish community, as well as advisors in the area of Taharat Hamishpacha (laws of family purity) and women’s health issues.
Prior to this she studied languages at Cambridge before qualifying as a lawyer and working in private practice for 12 years, in the field of international arbitration. Outside work she enjoys learning and teaches regularly in various Jewish settings. She is a graduate of the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership programme and the Gamechangers programme for senior Jewish community leaders and in 2015 was nominated as one of the ’40 under 40’.

Rabbi Dr Michael Harris

Rabbi Dr Michael Harris has been Rabbi of Hampstead Synagogue since 1995.  He is also a Research Fellow at The London School of Jewish Studies and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. His Ph.D is in philosophy, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His first book, Divine Command Ethics: Jewish and Christian Perspectives was published in 2003. He co-edited Radical Responsibility: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (Maggid Books, 2012) and has published articles and reviews in scholarly journals. He has recently published another book, Faith Without Fear: Unresolved Issues in Modern Orthodoxy (Vallentine Mitchell, 2015), and is co-author, with Daniel Rynhold, of the forthcoming Nietzsche, Soloveitchik and Contemporary Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge University Press).

Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski

Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski is senior rabbi of Golders Green Synagogue and CEO of University Jewish Chaplaincy.  Rabbi Belovski graduated in maths from Oxford University, gained semichah from Gateshead Yeshivah and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of London (PhD: hermeneutics) and City University (MSc: Organisational Psychology).  He is principal of Rimon Jewish Primary School, head of modern rabbinic thought at the London School of Jewish Studies, rabbi of Kisharon, faculty member at the London Montefiore rabbinical training school and a guest lecturer at Kings College, London.  Rabbi Belovski is engaged in interfaith and community cohesion projects and is a faculty member of the Senior Faith Leadership Programme, St George’s House, Windsor.  He is a board member of the charity HOPE not hate, an accredited civil and commercial mediator, the author of three books, a regular live broadcaster on the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans show and a popular speaker in the UK and internationally. His special interests include midrashic interpretation, contemporary halachah, pre-marriage counselling, 19th-century European Jewish thought and the development of independent-minded students.  Rabbi Belovski met his wife Vicki when they were students at Oxford; they are the proud parents of seven beautiful children.

Lindsay Simmonds

Lindsay is the current Scholar-in-Residence at Hampstead United Synagogue, and lectures widely on Gender and Judaism. She has a degree in Speech and Language Pathology and an MSc in Gender Studies from the LSE, where she is now completing her PhD at the Gender Institute. Lindsay studied at Nishmat in Jerusalem, was a Bruria Scholar at Midreshet Lindenbaum, and is a graduate of the LSJS Susi Bradfield Women Educators’ Fellowships. She is a member of the Cambridge Co-Exist Leadership Programme which promotes respectful, deep and long-lasting friendship and collegiality between faith leaders in the Christian, Jewish and Moslem communities in the UK, and is involved in several inter-faith projects in the UK.

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