As both one of the first women and one of the first openly gay rabbis to be ordained in Britain, Elli Tikvah Sarah has shattered assumptions about what it means to be part of—and to lead—the Jewish community. Born Elizabeth Klempner, Sarah studied at the London School of Economics and worked as a writer and editor of books and journals for several feminist collectives and women’s studies organizations. When the Leo Baeck College announced it was considering opening its doors to more diverse candidates for the rabbinate, Sarah enrolled in 1984 as one of the first two openly gay women students and was ordained in 1989. In 1994 she returned to Leo Baeck College as a professor, shaping the next generation of rabbis while also shaping policy as Director of Programmes for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain. In 2000 Sarah became rabbi of the Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue. That same year she also joined a working party of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference to create liturgy for commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples in conjunction with new British legislation allowing civil partnerships, which passed in 2005. Sarah married her partner, Jess Wood, at Brighton & Hove in 2006.
More on Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah." (Viewed on May 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/rabbis/narrators/sarah-tikvah-elizabeth>.