Rabbi Judith Levitt joins Shaari Tsedek Synagogue, Oakleigh Road, Whetstone

Rabbi Judith Levitt applied for rabbinical school after a colleague encouraged her

Rabbi Judith Levitt applied for rabbinical school after a colleague encouraged her

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Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter - north London

A woman who was once too scared to pursue her dream of becoming a rabbi has finally realised her ambition at a Whetstone synagogue.

Judith Levitt took on her new role at the Sha'rei Tsedek Synagogue in Oakleigh Road, Whestone, this week.

The 36-year-old decided she wanted to become a rabbi when she was a teenager – but did not share her dream with anyone out of fear.

After graduating from Sheffield University with an English degree, she moved to Canada to work for a Jewish centre, hoping to muster up the confidence to apply for rabbinical school.

She said: “I thought people would think it was weird for me to become a rabbi, so I do anything about it.

“But when I was in Canada a colleague left an application form for rabbinical school on my desk and said ‘you won’t ever be happy until you fill this out'.

“It was a turning point for me. I’d have got there eventually, but not as quickly. It was a lovely feeling knowing someone had faith in me and I couldn’t wait to apply.”

Ms Levitt returned to her family home in Totteridge and spent a gruelling three days undergoing “intense” interviews at the Leo Baeck College in Finchley.

She graduated from the rabbinical college in 2009, and took on a job at a synagogue in St John’s Wood and later, a role in Knightsbridge.

The now Finchley resident is excited about her new job and hopes to work on a number of interfaith projects with nearby churches and mosques.

She will be one of three rabbis at the synagogue, joining Rabbi Colin Eimer and Rabbi James Baaden.

She added: “I’d like to offer inspiring services for adults and children as well as helping out with social action projects. As a rabbi, I’d like to make a difference to the community.

"I paint and write in my spare time and hope to bring my love of art and literature into adult education in the community.

“It’s important to support new and upcoming rabbis – if there are any other women interested, don’t be afraid to follow your dream.”

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