Manchester’s Yeshurun Synagogue (northern) lights the way for women leaders – start of a (r)evolution?

This Wednesday, saw me heading up North to take part in a meeting at Yeshurun Synagogue’s “Liaison and Women in Judaism” group. I am delighted to report that this Manchester synagogue has changed its constitution to enable women to hold executive positions. Truly northern lights to the rest of the UK community when it comes to female leadership!

I am so glad to see that things are evolving and that gender equality is now also taking place in religious institutions. One of my personal campaigns in my long career in the Jewish community has always been to have more women taking charge on Trustee boards and senior positions. Thankfully, it’s not just me; the Charity Commission also recommends gender equality and more diversity overall at board level.

It is often not viewed this way, but Trusteeships are volunteer positions and it has always seemed to me a true waste of women’s skills and abilities to not use their huge practical experience in voluntary and paid work at the leadership level!

In my talk, I also looked at the general merits of volunteering; highlighting how voluntary can be an enriching and life changing experience and how volunteering in local communities, such as in synagogues like Yeshurun, can engage a younger audience to get involved in youth movements or in community work generally. We’re also seeing an evolution here, with traditional volunteering declining, as more women work and with grandparents so often engaged in childcare – so we all need to rethink how we engage people as volunteers.

This might be by offering volunteering opportunities targeted at young people with time on their hands or being more flexible with schedules, locations and volunteering roles available. But one thing is clear: all leaders – men and women alike! – in charities and communal organisations have to adapt to changing lifestyles in the Jewish community.  Hopefully soon, all communal organisations will see the (northern) lights and follow Yeshurun’s example in doing so!

You can find my name in (virtual) lights at the Jewish Telegraph website here entire article: Ladies first at Yeshurun Shul.


Categories: Leonie's View


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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  1. Not grim, quite rainy and very snowy up North – JVN visits Manchester | The Jewish Volunteering Network Blog - March 15, 2012

    […] Although it often seems like the world starts and finishes in London – and North London at that! – in fact JVN is passionate about supporting volunteering across the UK’s Jewish community. […]

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