The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Elli Tikvah Sarah

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Elli Tikvah Sarah until we are able to commission a full entry.

Photo of Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah in 2011 by Matthew Andrews, courtesy of Rabbi Sarah.

As both one of the first women and one of the first openly gay rabbis to be ordained in Britain, Elli Tikvah Sarah has profoundly reshaped the liberal Jewish community of Britain. Born Elizabeth Klempner, Sarah earned a degree in sociology from the London School of Economics in 1977. She worked as a writer and editor of books and journals for several feminist collectives and women’s studies organizations before entering rabbinical school at the Leo Baeck College in 1984 as one of two openly gay women students. After her ordination in 1989, she became rabbi of Buckhurst Hill Reform Synagogue for five years before becoming both Director of Programmes for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain and professor at the Leo Baeck College in 1994, where she taught until 2009. In 2000 Sarah joined a working party of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference to create liturgy for commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples. That same year, she became rabbi of the Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue, where she married her partner, Jess Wood, in 2006. In 2012 she published a collection of essays, Trouble-Making Judaism.

More on Elli Tikvah Sarah

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Elli Tikvah Sarah." (Viewed on September 30, 2023) <>.


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