Liberal and Reform merge to create single progressive UK Jewish movement

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Liberal and Reform merge to create single progressive UK Jewish movement

In an historic move, Rabbi Josh Levy becomes CEO of The Movement for Reform Judaism, partnering with Liberal Judaism CEO Rabbi Charley Baginsky.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy
Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy

Liberal Judaism and The Movement for Reform Judaism have announced a merger to create one single unified Progressive Jewish movement for the UK.

Rabbi Josh Levy becomes the CEO of The Movement for Reform Judaism, partnering with Liberal Judaism CEO Rabbi Charley Baginsky to lead a history-making project for the community.

Paul Langsford, co-chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism and Ruth Seager, chair of Liberal Judaism, said in a joint statement: “Our lay leadership and clergy are clear that the future for Progressive Judaism is to have one shared movement to represent all of Britain’s Progressive Jews. It will mean that our reach, our voice and ultimately our Judaism will be stronger.

“Our movements have made a huge impact on the development of the Jewish and wider world, but there is much more to do, and we believe this can be better achieved together.”

Rabbi Levy, who is currently Principal Rabbi of Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue), said: “This is an important moment for Progressive Judaism in Britain and beyond. Reform and Liberal Judaism share the same core values and outlook.

“Alyth is an amazing community to have served, and I will miss working as a congregational rabbi. However, it is a unique opportunity for Progressive Judaism in the UK, working with movement staff, lay leaders, members and clergy and in deep partnership with Charley who has done great things in her leadership of Liberal Judaism.”

Justin Wise, Chair of Alyth, added: “We are deeply sad that Rabbi Levy is leaving our community as Principal Rabbi, but are enormously excited for the future of Progressive Judaism and the commitment both movements are making to this new project.”

Liberal and Reform Judaism have been separate movements for over 120 years. This advance to unite into one Progressive Jewish movement will bring the UK into line with most other countries, including the United States and Israel.

Rabbi Baginsky said: “There is a real sense of excitement in both Liberal and Reform Judaism about this move. In recent years we have grown together, hand in hand and organically, presenting us with this special opportunity.

“We believe the same things – for example our welcome of mixed faith families and fully egalitarian services. We are as one on everything from campaigning for same-sex marriage to training rabbis and educators, to offering provision for students and young people.

“This is the next natural step for us both and I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead it alongside a colleague and friend in Josh.”

Progressive Jews together make up around 30% of those who are affiliated to synagogues in the UK.

There are more than 80 progressive communities reaching all parts of the country and an estimated 40,000 people affiliated to the two movements – some 30 percent of affiliated Jews.

Rabbis for both movements are trained at the Leo Baeck College.

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