Sybil Sheridan

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Rabbi Sybil Sheridan
Position Rabbi
Organisation Rabbi at West London Synagogue (2014–16); Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis, Movement for Reform Judaism (UK) (2013–15); Rabbi at Wimbledon and District Synagogue (2003–14)
Personal details
Born 1953
Nationality British
Denomination Reform Judaism (UK)
Spouse Rabbi Jonathan Romain
Children Four
Semicha 1981

Sybil Sheridan (born 1953) is a writer and British Reform rabbi. She was Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK[1] at the Movement for Reform Judaism[2] from 2013 to 2015[3] and was Rabbi at West London Synagogue and at Wimbledon and District Synagogue in south west London.

Sybil Sheridan has edited two books and contributed to several academic publications. She is a major contributor to interfaith dialogue, both nationally and internationally, and has a particular interest in Jewish-Muslim dialogue and especially between women. She co-chaired the Home Office International Conference for Women in Judaism and Islam.[4]

She has strong links to Israel and to the educational conference Limmud. She has lectured at Leo Baeck College[5] and the Muslim College, London.[4] She is on the International Editorial Advisory Board of Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues published by Indiana University Press.[6] For eight years she was Jewish chaplain at the University of Roehampton.

Early years[edit]

She grew up in Bolton, Lancashire, a member of Manchester Reform Synagogue.[1] She read Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge University, being one of the first two Jews to do so (the other being Walter Rothschild). She then studied at Leo Baeck College and at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, and was ordained as a rabbi in 1981,[7] one of the first women in Europe in the role.[8]


After four years at Ealing Liberal Synagogue, she took extended maternity leave, during which time she wrote a book of children's stories, lectured at Leo Baeck College, and worked with the Swindon Jewish Community. In 1994 Rabbi Sheridan became Rabbi of the Thames Valley Jewish Community (now known as the Reading Liberal Jewish Community)[9] and remained there until her appointment as Rabbi of Wimbledon and District Synagogue. She job shared with Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild[10] in that post from 2003[11] until early 2014. In 2014 she became Rabbi at West London Synagogue.[12]

In 2011 she produced, with Cantor Zoe Jacobs of Finchley Reform Synagogue, what is thought to be the first major new collection of synagogue music published in the UK for nearly a century. Shirei Ha-t'fillah (Songs of Prayer), a compilation of sheet music and explanatory articles, was published by the Movement for Reform Judaism.[13]

Social justice[edit]

Sybil Sheridan has made several visits to Ethiopia to find out about and support the Jews in Gondar.[14][15] She was inspired by her visit to set up a new charity, Meketa (Amharic for protection or support),[16] after seeing at first hand the poverty and lack of resources available.[17]

In February 2013 she was one of a group of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders who met at Parliament to urge MPs to support a radical overhaul of the financial system including debt cancellation for the most indebted countries, more progressive taxation and an end to harmful lending.[7]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Jonathan Romain, Rabbi of Maidenhead Synagogue, and they have four adult sons.[1]


For young people[edit]


  • Stefanie Sinclair: Regina Jonas: the first female rabbi, Open University, 2013. Includes an interview with Sybil Sheridan[20]


  1. ^ a b c "Rabbi Sybil Sheridan: Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK". Movement for Reform Judaism. 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Simon Rocker (8 July 2013). "Moving chairs as Reform changes leading posts". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Rabbi Paul Freedman elected as new Assembly of Rabbis Chair" (Press release). Movement for Reform Judaism. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Idols" (PDF). An-Nisa Society and Leo Baeck College. 17 January 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Seth Daniel Kunin (ed) (2000). Themes and Issues in Judaism. World Religions: Themes and Issues. New York: Cassell. p. vii. 
  6. ^ "Nashim". Indiana University Press. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Economic change is about justice, not charity, say faith leaders". Independent Catholic News. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "I've always had to prove myself – Rabbi Barbara". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Reading Liberal Jewish Community". Congregation Data. JCR-UK. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Sybil Sheridan (10 June 2009). "What future for the Jews left in Ethiopia?". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Sylvia Rothschild". Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Naomi Firsht (24 October 2014). "Sheridan goes back to pulpit". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  13. ^ Simon Rocker (14 July 2011). "ESongbook is music to the ears of Reform". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Jean Broadbent (Winter 2011). "Are there still Jews in Ethiopia?". The Anglo-Ethiopian Society. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Abyot Fray is no longer water free!". Link Ethiopia. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Home page". Meketa – supporting Jews in Ethiopia. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  17. ^ James Preston (7 September 2012). "Race against time to save the lost Jews of Ethiopia". Maidenhead Advertiser. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Sybil Sheridan. ""History of Women in the Rabbinate: A Communal Case of Amnesia". Lecture delivered at BET DEBORA – European Conference of Women Rabbis, Cantors, Scholars and all Spiritually Interested Jewish Women and Men, Berlin, May 1999". Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Margaret Malett (2008). The Primary English Encyclopaedia (Third ed.). Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 0-415-45103-5. 
  20. ^ Stefanie Sinclair (27 February 2013). "Regina Jonas: the first female rabbi". The Open University. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 

External links[edit]