Sunday, December 19, 2004

Women's prayer groups -- do they survive over time?

This Friday night, I went to an Orthodox women's-only prayer group -- the first time I've been to such an event in years. Although such groups are still relatively unknown in the UK (there was an enormous battle over them in the early 90s and the Orthodox United Synagogue does not allow them to take place in any US Synagogue), I was impressed to see that there was a wide range of women in attendance, both in terms of age (everything from teenagers to pensioners) and religious affiliation (within Orthodoxy). In fact, there were a number of women there I would never have imagined would be interested in such a group, and certainly many women who don't normally go to Friday night services. The very existance of such a group, and its wide appeal, seemed to me to show at least how the UK Jewish community is changing, and finally becoming a little less conformist and a little less conservative than it was 10 years ago. I do, however, wonder how 'women's-only' prayer groups do over time; I'm sure there was a 'novelty factor' at play here. Anyone got any evidence from elsewhere?

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