This guide is designed to help you reach out and interact with people of different faiths in your local area, to create a successful project that involves them. We strive to build frank and open relationships, where people in our churches can engage with members of other religious communities to explore our beliefs in a friendly, honest and open way. To do this, we use local forums, programs such as Friendship First, and dialogue events organized by groups such as the Council for Christians and Jews. It is essential to recognize that all grassroots community work and leadership should be respected and held in high esteem within the interfaith community.
Haredic communities in New York and Israel had already seen disproportionately higher rates of infection and mortality from COVID-19, and there was a risk of a similar outcome in Hackney. He has taught at Kings' College in London, at the United Synagogue, and in Jewish communities across the UK. Each of these women brings their experience from their own religious communities (Christian, Muslim, and Jewish), as well as their professional expertise, to ensure that these organizations reflect the needs of the British religious communities they work with and contribute to, as well as society as a whole. What I mean is that Orthodox Jewish women are unable to represent religious leaders in the United Kingdom, a fact that is expressed more explicitly in the lack of an appropriate title. Since the Orthodox Jewish community in the United Kingdom prohibits women from acquiring the title of rabbi, they are inevitably excluded from this group of representative clerics. In areas of religious diversity, it is common to find community initiatives that bring together people of different faiths.
As an Orthodox Jew and professor whose research focuses on issues of gender and Judaism, it is especially important for me to know about and advocate for women's participation in interreligious work and conflict resolution, both at the grassroots level and at leadership levels, and to ask myself what impact they are having on the interfaith community. This question intersects with the challenges posed by women's religious leadership roles in general and, more specifically, in the United Kingdom's Orthodox Jewish community. As a researcher and professor at the London School of Jewish Studies, as well as an Orthodox Jew, I have been asked many times to participate in these programs, as have several Orthodox colleagues who work as community educators, for philanthropic charities, in academia or NGOs. In this blog post, Dr. Simmonds discusses women's leadership in interfaith initiatives, particularly among the Orthodox Jewish community where women's opportunities to lead and represent their community are limited.
She is a speaker at national and international conferences on Judaism and gender and is involved in several UK projects that promote the participation and leadership of Orthodox Jewish women in rituals. However, while this group of women includes both religious leaders and lay leaders, none are religious leaders within the Orthodox Jewish community.