Women's Learning Experience
Since February 1993 Orthodox Stanmore women seeking a meaningful spiritual experience on Shabbat had to meet in members' homes and in more recent times in a local old age home, calling themselves the Stanmore Women's Tephillah Service. We were the first group of United Synagogue women to create such an Orthodox gathering on Shabbat.
On Shabbat 17 September 2011, more than 60 women took part in their first gathering on Stanmore Synagogue premises, having obtained Beth Din approval, changing the emphasis to learning for women and changing the name to the Women's Learning Experience at Stanmore.
There was no single service leader as a number of women took part in the spirit of empowering women to extend their Jewish learning. Tina Oberman and Liz Lightstone were among a number of women and girls - aged between seven and seventy who participated, some for the first time. Seven women each competently leined their individual portions of that week's sedra from the Chumash. The youngest participant was 8 year old Nofiya Isman, who confidently, sang Anim Zemirot at the end of the morning, with her Mum Sara proudly by her side.
Whilst not being able to say kaddish for a loved one, the women had the opportunity to acknowledge yahrzeits by reciting a specially adapted prayer in Hebrew or English as well as individual prayers for family members or friends who are unwell.
Our Synagogue's Vice Chair Jacqui Rudolph delivered a d'var torah in which she linked the previous week's sedrah Ki Tetze translated as "when you go out" to that week's sedra Ki Tavo "when you arrive". Jacqui said "There is something very symbolic and meaningful about the succession of parshiot from last week to this week, especially for the women in this room here today."
Founder member of the group, Shelley Morris, gave a very interesting and highly informative talk on Psalm 27, which is recited in shul during the month of Elul. At the end of the service Rabbi Andrew Shaw, Stanmore Synagogue's Community Development Rabbi addressed the women. He used the theme of that week's sedra to advise the women to go forward by learning from their Group's past experiences.
Many notes of good wishes were read to the group by founding member Pauline Newman, including one from Stanmore's Senior Minister, Rabbi Mendel Lew, and from Stanmore's former Senior Minister Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Cohen who supported the formation of the Group from its inception.
To end the Shabbat morning the women achieved a first – joining the rest of the community for kiddush in the synagogue hall.
The Women's Learning Experience at Stanmore gathers quarterly on Shabbat morning and the Group warmly welcomes all women and girls, whatever their age, level of knowledge and observance.
You can just come and experience the morning or take a more active role by contacting Pauline Newman on 020 8954 9480.
For dates please see the [Shul Calendar]