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Liberal Judaism

Liberal Judaism is a Jewish religious denomination in Britain, resembling American Reform Judaism. It is one of the WUPJ affiliates in the United Kingdom along with the local, more conservative British Reform current.[1]


  • Origins 1
    • Key figures 1.1
  • Organisations 2
  • Leadership 3
  • Beliefs and practices 4
  • Key issues 5
    • Mixed faith relationships 5.1
    • Same-sex marriages 5.2
    • Position on the JFS case 5.3
    • Israel 5.4
    • Considered engagement 5.5
    • The confirmation of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis 5.6
    • Criticisms of Ralph Miliband in the Daily Mail 5.7
    • Call for a merger between the JLC and Board of Deputies of British Jews 5.8
    • Expanded religious education in the UK school system 5.9
    • The "pickling" of Judaism by the Charedi 5.10
    • The response to Israel's consultation of its diaspora 5.11
  • Religious texts 6
  • Youth movement 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The Liberal movement in the UK was founded in the early part of the 20th century by

  • Liberal Judaism (UK)
  • Religion & Ethics - Liberal Judaism, BBC – six page overview
  • History of the Liberal movement (UK)
  • World Union for Progressive Judaism

External links

  1. ^ "Links". 25 February 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Jewish East End of London – Miss Lily Montagu". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Ellen M. Umansky. "The Origins of Liberal Judaism In England". Crown Library. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "History". Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Treasures from the London Library: Claude Montefiore: a cautious revolutionary".  
  6. ^ "Lily Montagu, girl’s work and youth work". 12 January 1911. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Religions - Judaism: Liberal Judaism".  
  8. ^ Michael Freedland (26 September 2005). "Obituary: Rabbi John Rayner".  
  9. ^ "Article Details". 29 September 2005. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Obituary: Sidney Brichto", The Jewish Chronicle, 5 February 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  11. ^ Minisis Inc. "London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Watch Union Of Liberal And Progressive Synagogues Video". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Michael A. Meyer. Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Access to Archives".  
  15. ^ The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "JCR-UK - Definitions & Explanation of Terms". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Assimilation". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Q & A: Lucian Hudson, Liberal Judaism Chairman". The Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "New Lib Jew chairman". 8 December 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "New Lib Jew CEO". 2 December 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Stephen Bates (16 April 2003). "Liberal rabbis take a stand | UK news".  
  22. ^ Jonathan Masters, Pi Computing (Cardiff) Ltd, "Welcome to Cardiff Reform Synagogue". Cardiff Reform Synagogue. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein Elected President". Liberal Judaism. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Celebrating Leadership". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  25. ^ "News Archive July 2012". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  26. ^ "Conferences, Rabbinical".  
  27. ^ "Management". TLSE. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Association of Jewish Women's Organisations in the UK". The Association of Jewish Women's Organisations in the UK. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "Council of Membership". The Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  30. ^ Jeremy Newmark. "Board of Deputies of British Jews". The Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "About the World Union for Progressive Judaism". World Union for Progressive Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "History". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "Liberal Judaism welcomes newly ordained rabbis". Liberal Judaism. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  34. ^ "The Affirmations of Liberal Judaism". 10 June 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  35. ^ "Affirmations". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "Welcome to Liberal Judaism". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "What is Liberal Judaism?". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  39. ^ "Your chance to shape Liberal Judaism’s future". Liberal Judaism. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  40. ^ "A radical mainstream Judaism". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  41. ^ Moody, Oliver (September 22, 2014). "Orthodox faith wanes as Jews quit middle ground | The Times". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  42. ^ "Liberal and Reform Judaism launch 'alliance' - Jewish News". September 14, 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  43. ^ Rocker, Simon (September 14, 2014). "Progressives forge closer ties to attract unaffiliated | The Jewish Chronicle". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  44. ^ "Who Is A Jew; The Half-Jewish Network: Welcoming Adult Children & Grandchildren of Intermarriage". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  45. ^ Aaron, Rabbi. "Blessing Mixed-Faith Couples in the United Kingdom". InterfaithFamily. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  46. ^ "Finchley Progressive | Mixed Faith Blessing". Finchley Progressive Synagogue. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  47. ^ "Marriage/Civil Partnership". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  48. ^ "We don't 'marry out'. We are made to".  
  49. ^ "Funerals". Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  50. ^ "Death". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  51. ^ Press Association (29 November 2005). "Liberal Judaism creates gay wedding service".  
  52. ^ "Gay marriage: shuls ready".  
  53. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee: MARRIAGE (SAME SEX COUPLES) BILL (12 February 2013)". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  54. ^ "Liberal Jews Greet Equal Marriage Vote with Elation". Liberal Judaism. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  55. ^ Emily Wilson (1 December 2005). "How gay is too gay?".  
  56. ^ "Race, human rights and religion: the UK's Jewish free school decision". openDemocracy. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  57. ^ Sarah Lyall (7 July 2009). "Who Is a Jew? Court Ruling in Britain Raises Question". The New York Times International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  58. ^ "Jewish school loses places fight".  
  59. ^ "It's the right decision for the community | The Jewish Chronicle". 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  60. ^ "Liberal Jewish Values: Zionism and Israel". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  61. ^ Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent (5 August 2006). "Beleaguered community torn by a distant war". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  62. ^ Simon Rocker (13 December 2012). "Comment is free: Legitimising Lieberman? Not in the UK".  
  63. ^ "Zionism: A Jewish Communal Response from the UK". The Board of Deputies of British Jews. 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  64. ^ "Why solidarity matters". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  65. ^ "Chief Executive Announces Policy of Considered Engagement". Liberal Judaism. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  66. ^ Lucian J. Hudson (March–April 2012). "A model for building a better worlds". LJ Today. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  67. ^ "Considered Engagement for the Hardened Heart".  
  68. ^ Sam Jones and agencies. "Ephraim Mirvis has been chosen as the next chief rabbi | World news". Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  69. ^ Geoffrey Levy (27 September 2013). "Red Ed's pledge to bring back socialism is a homage to Marxist father Ralph Miliband says GEOFFREY LEVY".  
  70. ^ Jamie Doward and Toby Helm. "How the Mail blundered into a vicious battle with Labour".  
  71. ^ Joe Murphy, Political Editor (3 October 2013). "Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg backs Ed Miliband in Daily Mail fight".  
  72. ^ "Daily Mail accused of antisemitic attack over Miliband story".  
  73. ^ "Miliband Mail Row: Clegg Joins Criticism".  
  74. ^ "Jewish Leadership Council chief Jeremy Newmark steps down | The Jewish Chronicle". 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  75. ^ "Renewed call for board/JLC merger after chief executive steps down | The Jewish Chronicle". 2013-10-10. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  76. ^ "A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England". The Religious Education Council of England and Wales. October 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  77. ^ Rabbi Danny Rich (2013-11-25). "Why religion belongs in school". Haaretz. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  78. ^ "Britain’s Jewish Community Statistics 2012". The Board of Deputies of British Jews. November 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  79. ^ November 22, 2013 (2013-11-22). "Rabbi Danny Rich: the ‘pickling’ of our Jewish faith is undermining its raison d’être". Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  80. ^ November 14, 2013 (2013-11-14). "Liberals claim Charedim are ‘pickling’ Judaism by hiding away from world". Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  81. ^ "Israel should "value dissent" and actively promote the "equality of minorities" say Liberal Jews". Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  82. ^ "Communal leaders join Israel's global debate on diaspora | The Jewish Chronicle". 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  83. ^ "Siddur Lev Chadash". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  84. ^ John D. Rayner, Chaim Stern. Siddur Lev chadash – Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues (Great Britain). Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues (Great Britain). Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  85. ^ "Services". The Liberal Synagogue Elstree. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  86. ^ "Pesach". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  87. ^ OCLC 30275088, 3924614 and 57211633
  88. ^ OCLC 1106814 and 700403
  89. ^ "About Us". LJY Netzer. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  90. ^ "History".  


See also

LJY-Netzer (ljy-נצ"ר – Liberal Jewish Youth-Netzer) is the youth movement of Liberal Judaism, a progressive Zionist youth movement, and a branch (or snif) of Netzer Olami.[89] Founded in 1947 as FLPJYG (Federation of Liberal and Progressive Jewish Youth Groups), it was renamed in 2004 to be in line with the name of Liberal Judaism.[90]

Youth movement

  • Service of the Heart: Weekday Sabbath and Festival Services and Prayers for Home and Synagogue (1967).[87]
  • Gate of Repentance: Services for the High Holydays (1973).[88]

These superseded the movement's previous prayerbooks,

  • Siddur Lev Chadash (1995) – The official prayerbook (siddur) of Liberal Judaism, as well as the first official Jewish prayerbook in the UK to use gender-neutral language to describe God.[83][84]
  • Machzor Ruach Chadashah (2003) – The movement’s volume of services (machzor) for the Days of Awe (Hebrew: ימים נוראים), or High Holy Days.[85]
  • Haggadah b’chol dor va-dor (2010) – A guide (haggadah) for conducting a Pesach seder.[86]

Religious texts

In February 2014, the movement issued a policy contribution in response to Israel's consultation of its diaspora on the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In the response, lead by Hudson, Liberal Judaism stated that the Israel which it supports must “play a positive role in the world, sharing the prophetic vision and reflecting Liberal Jewish values," and reaffirmed their support of a two-state solution with a Palestinian state, as well as proposing a “permissive approach to Jewish and non-Jewish immigration.”[81] They also argued that Israel must be more open toward voices of dissent and promoting minority rights, while diaspora communities should provide greater financial investments for Israel’s non-Jewish communities.[82]

The response to Israel's consultation of its diaspora

In November 2013, the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued the 2012 statistics report for Britain’s Jewish Community, which noted a "natural increase" in Britain's Jewish population, with specific emphasis on Britain's Charedi (Orthodox) community, who were responsible for four out of every ten Jewish births and more than three in ten weddings.[78] In response to these numbers, Rich issued remarks that have generated some controversy, stating that the Orthodox community didn't preserve the Jewish religion, but rather "pickled" it, by refusing to engage with the outside world.[79][80]

The "pickling" of Judaism by the Charedi

In October 2013, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales published A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England, which stated that, "All children need to acquire core knowledge and understanding of the beliefs and practices of the religions and worldviews which not only shape their history and culture but which guide their own development."[76] Rich wrote an opinion column in Haaretz in support of the framework, stating that "religious education has never been more important", and calling for comprehensive religious education in both single-faith and secular schools.[77]

Expanded religious education in the UK school system

In October 2013, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark announced that he was stepping down for health reasons.[74] Following this announcement, Hudson urged the Jewish Leadership Council to take advantage of a "strategic opportunity" to build a single professional body that would merge the JLC with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, arguing that this would be "a way for the leadership of UK Jewry to be more efficient and effective."[75]

Call for a merger between the JLC and Board of Deputies of British Jews

On 27 September 2013 the Daily Mail published an article about sociologist Ralph Miliband (whose sons became senior members of the British Labour Party), criticizing his Marxist ideals and calling him "the man who hated Britain."[69] Rabbi Danny Rich was quoted by The Observer, Evening Standard, Jewish Chronicle and Sky News in response, stating that the newspaper was “playing with fire," and that the article "gives legitimacy to those that seek to cast all refugees and immigrants as ‘outsiders’ and question their loyalty."[70][71][72][73]

Criticisms of Ralph Miliband in the Daily Mail

When Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was named Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in December 2012, Rabbi Danny Rich issued a statement welcoming the appointment of Mirvis, stressing the need for plurality among the British community, and advising that the hardest part of the job for Mirvis would be recognizing that the position "no longer represents a large section of the community."[68]

The confirmation of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

In 2011, Liberal Judaism adopted a policy it calls "Considered Engagement".[65] Under this policy, the chief executive, chairman and other national officers review invitations to participate in events based on their goals, even if the hosting organisation is not in accord with the policies of Liberal Judaism.[66] This has led to some criticism, such as when the movement partnered with Oxfam on Grow: Tazmiach, despite Oxfam having been outspoken against actions of the Israeli Government.[67]

Considered engagement

Liberal Judaism's stance on Israel is one of territorial compromise, with the goal of a peaceful two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.[60] Rabbi Danny Rich has been outspoken against Israeli actions in Lebanon, as well as on the views of former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, stating that, "Some of his reported views could threaten the stability of an Israel in which the Arab minority can thrive."[61][62] While Liberal Judaism's support for Israel has also been more evident in recent years, with Lucian Hudson publishing a booklet, on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, in defence of Zionism, more recent statements by Hudson reaffirm the movement's commitment to a two-state solution, in opposition to all boycotts.[63][64]


In 2009, the case known as R(E) v Governing Body of JFS was brought before the High Court where a 12-year-old boy, known as M, was refused entry to the Jewish Free School (JFS) because, while his father was born a Jew and both his father and mother actively practised the Jewish faith, the mother had converted to Judaism in a non-Orthodox synagogue, which failed to meet the school's criteria for the child being Jewish.[56] Liberal Judaism was actively vocal in supporting M's case, specifically that JFS, as a state-funded school, had an obligation to be open to all forms of Judaism.[57] The school was found to be in violation of the Race Relations Act, and now selects its students on the basis of Jewish faith, rather than by the maternal blood line.[58] Following the court's decision, Lucian Hudson and Danny Rich issued a statement in The Jewish Chronicle in support of the ruling, stating that JFS had made "a politically-motivated decision" that was "inappropriate for a state-funded school which ought be serving the whole Jewish community without discrimination."[59]

Position on the JFS case

In 2005, Liberal Judaism became the first mainstream religious movement in the UK to publish an official liturgy for same-sex commitment ceremonies.[51] The Brit Ahava (Covenant of Love) ceremony was made available well before civil partnerships for same-sex unions were made available in the UK.[52] In February 2013, Rabbi Danny Rich presented evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee looking into the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, reiterating Liberal Judaism’s stance on the issue, stating, "although Liberal Judaism respects the right of other religious movements to decline to conduct marriages which go against their teachings, and to have this right protected in law, it also seeks, in the name of freedom of religion, the right to conduct marriages which it sees as legitimate, and as an important pastoral service to its members.”[53] In response to the June 2013 House of Lords equal marriage vote, Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Aaron Goldstein issued a statement, reading in part, "We are now looking forward to celebrating the first fully legal and fully Jewish same sex marriage under a Liberal chuppah.”[54] The movement also welcomes openly gay and lesbian rabbis.[55]

Same-sex marriages

Liberal Judaism recognises patrilineal as well as matrilineal Jewish descent.[44] It is also the first synagogue body in the UK to recognise mixed faith partnerships and perform mixed-faith blessings.[45] While the liturgy and rituals are not the same as a Jewish wedding, the couple must also participate in a civil ceremony and should be committed to building a Jewish household; rabbis are allowed to participate in blessing mixed faith marriages.[46] The movement's official stance is that the non-Jewish partner is being encouraged to "marry in" rather than the Jewish partner "marrying out" of the faith.[47][48] The movement was also the first stream of Judaism to allow non-Jews to be buried alongside their Jewish spouses in Liberal Jewish cemeteries.[49][50]

Mixed faith relationships

Liberal Judaism is distinctly more radical than Reform,[7] aspiring to equality in line with modern values and thinking, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It seeks to treat children with only one Jewish parent the same, regardless of the parent's gender, and celebrates same sex relationships and marriages equally with those of mixed sex couples.

Key issues

In 2014, the movement announced an alliance with the Movement for Reform Judaism.[41] While offering assurances that the movements were not merging and would remain separate, the alliance was announced by spokespersons for the movements as an opportunity to speak as a single voice for Progressive Judaism in the UK.[42][43]

The movement's chairman, Lucian Hudson announced in 2013 that Liberal Judaism is currently producing a strategic plan for the next decade. The new document will be brief, only including key information on Liberal Judaism’s main objectives, priorities, roles and responsibilities.[39] Hudson is positioning Liberal Judaism as radical mainstream Judaism.[40]

To quote the movement's website, "Liberal Judaism reverences Jewish tradition, and seeks to preserve the values of the Judaism of the past while giving them contemporary force. It aspires to a Judaism that is always an active force for good in the lives of Jewish individuals, families and communities today, and equally makes its contribution to the betterment of society."[37] And it stresses "the full equality and participation of men and women in every sphere of religious life; an emphasis on ethical conduct above ritual observance; an affirmation of each individual's freedom to act responsibly in accordance with the dictates of the informed religious conscience; a pride in combining our Jewish heritage with full participation in the civic life of this country; and an awareness of our duty not only to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel, but also to the entire human family, each one of whom is created in the Divine image".[38]

The beliefs of Liberal Judaism are outlined in The Affirmations of Liberal Judaism. Originally written by Rabbi John D. Rayner, the Affirmations detail the movement's common ground with other forms of Judaism, as well as establishing the ideals that differentiate it.[34] Affirmation 23, which lays out the movement's progressive ideals, states "Judaism has never stood still. It has always moved forward, sometimes slowly, sometimes faster. Its history is a history of continuity and change. We affirm the dynamic, developing character of our Jewish religious tradition."[35] This view represents the idea that divine laws were not something that happened at one specific moment on Mt. Sinai, but rather as an evolving ideal representing Judaism's historic development through each succeeding generation.[36]

Beliefs and practices

[33][32].Movement for Reform Judaism, which the movement funds together with the Leo Baeck College Liberal rabbis receive training and are ordained in the UK by [31].World Union for Progressive Judaism Liberal Judaism is also a constituent member of the [30][29].Board of Deputies by Lucian J. Hudson and has a number of representatives on the Jewish Leadership Council Liberal Judaism is represented on the [28][27] Liberal Judaism is a national union of autonomous communities, currently chaired by


The JRU did not originally intend to be a separate denomination, but rather wished to encourage synagogues affiliated with the JRU to develop a form of authentic Judaism that was responsive to changes going on in the modern world, without going down the path of classical German Reform.[11] Many of its members were inspired by Claude Montefiore's 1903 book Liberal Judaism – An Essay.[12] In 1909 the JRU changed its name to the Jewish Religious Union for the Advancement of Liberal Judaism.[13] In 1944 the name changed again to the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, more commonly known as the ULPS.[14] In 2002, it changed its name to Liberal Judaism, which has always been the main term used for the movement.[15] Some of its synagogues use the term "Progressive" in their name, while others use the word "Liberal".[16]


  • Claude Montefiore – Founder of Liberal Judaism[5]
  • [6]
  • Rabbi Israel Mattuck – The movement's first rabbi[7]
  • Rabbi John Rayner – Considered to be one of the foremost progressive rabbis in the United Kingdom and Europe[8][9]
  • Rabbi Sidney Brichto – The first executive director of the movement[10]

Key figures in the history and development of Liberal Judaism include:

Key figures

[4] The movement began to steadily gain adherents after the founding in 1911 of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. Johns Wood, London, the first of more than 30 Liberal congregations in the UK.[3]

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