Book recommendation

women rabbis in the pulpit coverRabbi Dr. Barbara Borts, Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah (Ed.): Women Rabbis in the Pulpit: A collection of sermons, Kulmus Publishing 2015, 359 S. (available as “Book on Demand” at


This book is a collection of sermons by more than forty rabbis, all alumni from London’s Leo Baeck College, now working in the UK and other European countries the USA and Australia.  The impulse for this volume was provided by the 7th Bet Debora UK conference where the first female rabbi Regina Jonas’ (1902-1935) life and work was honored with lectures and film screenings. The collection is dedicated to her. Before being ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas studied at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin, which was forced to close in 1942. The Leo Baeck College London was founded in 1956 as its successor and it was here that Jackie Tabick was the first woman to receive Smicha in 1975. Over a period of forty years, the college has trained fifty-five female rabbis in total.

The collection includes sermons for various occasions – Shabbat and other festive holidays. It is divided into six thematic chapters: Living a Jewish Life, Being Human, God and Spirituality, Responses and Responsibility to the World, Feminism and Gender, Life and Loss. The final section commemorates two late rabbis. Every sermon is preceded by some biographical notes on the author, as well as a brief statement explaining why the text was chosen to be included. The sermons vary as much in theme as in tone, ranging from academic, poetic, didactic, personal or spiritual, and taken from a variety of sources including the Bible, rabbinical writings, poetry and newspaper articles.