Barbara Borts

Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts
Personal details
Birth name Barbara Marcy Borts
Born 19 December 1953
Los Angeles, United States
Nationality American
Denomination Reform Judaism (UK)
Semicha 1981

Dr Barbara Marcy Borts is an American-born Movement for Reform Judaism rabbi in the United Kingdom. She was one of the first women in Europe to be ordained as a rabbi[1][2] and the first woman to have her own pulpit in a UK Reform Judaism synagogue.[3]

Early life

Barbara Borts was born in Los Angeles on 19 December 1953 to Krystal[4] and Abraham Borts.[5] After studying at Leo Baeck College in London, she was ordained as a rabbi in 1981,[6] at the same time as Rabbi Sybil Sheridan; they were two of the first women rabbis in Europe.[2]


Barbara Borts took up posts as rabbi at Hampstead Reform Synagogue and at Mill Hill Reform Synagogue.[7] From 1984 to 1990 she was rabbi at Radlett Reform Synagogue, the first woman rabbi to have a pulpit of her own in a UK Reform Judaism synagogue.[3] After spending some time in North America, where she became the first female rabbi in Montreal[8] and was one of the first religious leaders to conduct same-sex marriages in Ontario,[9] she worked as part-time rabbi of Newcastle Reform Synagogue from 2008 to 2012[2][6][10][11] and became part-time rabbi of a small Jewish community in Basel, Switzerland.[12]

In 2014 she gained a doctorate in Jewish music from the University of Durham.[13] As of 2015 she is taking services at Darlington Hebrew Congregation, where she is also providing rabbinical advice,[14][15] and is studying to become a chazzan.[12]

Social justice

In 2010 she and 51 other rabbis called for action to end the killing in the Congo.[16]

In 2013, along with more than 200 Jews, she signed a statement drawn up by Jewish Socialist magazine, marking the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht and slamming "the toxic sentiments expressed by many politicians and much of the media against migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and Travellers".[17]

In December 2014, The Guardian published a letter signed by her and other UK rabbis, sharing the Archbishop of Canterbury's concerns about child poverty in Britain.[18]


Barbara Borts' publications include:


  1. "I've always had to prove myself – Rabbi Barbara". Jewish Telegraph. 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Shire, Michael (12 February 2009). "Induction of Rabbi Barbara Borts". News. Movement for Reform Judaism. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Our history". About. Radlett Reform Synagogue. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  4. "Barbara Marcy Borts: California, Birth Index". California, Birth Index, 1905–1995. Family Search. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  5. "Obituaries". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  6. 1 2 "Geordie welcome for Borts". The Jewish Chronicle. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  7. Mill Hill Reform Synagogue (1981). Service for the induction of Rabbi Barbara Borts: 22nd November 1981. Mill Hill Reform Synagogue. p. 11. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  8. Waller, Harold M (1997). American Jewish Year Book, 1997, Volume 97. American Jewish Committee. p. 250. ISBN 0 87495 111 9.
  9. James, William Closson (2011). God's Plenty: Religious Diversity in Kingston. McGill-Queens University Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-07735-3925-9. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  10. Forman, Cathy (29 March 2012). "Borts quits Newcastle Reform". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  11. "Our rabbi". Newcastle Reform Synagogue. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  12. 1 2 "Presenters' Biographies: Barbara Borts". Newcastle Day Limmud. Limmud. 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  13. Pappworth-McAllister, Peninnah (28 August 2014). "Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts, Ph.D. Dunelm. Mazeltov!". News. Darlington Hebrew Congregation. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  14. "Services". About Us. Darlington Hebrew Congregation. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  15. "Forthcoming Services and Social Club Events". Darlington Hebrew Congregation. 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  16. "52 rabbis call for actions to end the killing in the Congo". UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  17. "Kristallnacht statement condemns growing hostility to migrants in UK". Jewish Socialist. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  18. Wright, Rabbi Alexandra; et al. (9 December 2014). "Looking beyond food banks to dig up the roots of hunger in Britain". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2015.

External links

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