Liberal Jews in UK celebrating 100th birthday

The cleverly named Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, which my dad and I had a nice time at on vacation about six years ago, is celebrating their centenary this month. So mazal tov, UK liberal Jews!

As an aside, the UK has two movements that are members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The Liberal Jews there are more like Reform Jews here and the Reform Jews there are a little most like the Conservative Jews here. Both groups, however, share a seminary.

Here’s some background on the shul. This column has some interesting material about their historical relationship–long abandoned, of course–of anti-Zionism and their ongoing commitment to feminism.

And here’s some stuff about a big party they had.


6 responses to “Liberal Jews in UK celebrating 100th birthday

  1. Is that a tefillah shel rosh perched precariously on the lone male head in the middle of the picture?

  2. Yes, we really did have a nice time there. Rabbi Alexandra Wright and the members were quite welcoming and even invited us to their pot luck dinner after the Friday night service.

  3. The UK also has a Masorti movement, which is a closer equivalent of the Conservative movement. As I understood it, UK Liberal is more like US Classical Reform, and UK Reform is more like modern US Reform.

  4. My understanding parallels that of BZ. As David noted, both Liberal and Reform are members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, whose own website does not reference its two sub-groups in the UK. When I have interfaced with Brits at WUPJ and other functions, they have made no particular effort to identify as Liberal or Reform. I’ve never discussed it with anybody, but, as David has noted, the historic differentiations have faded and the failure to come together probably has more to do with personalities than with ideologies.

    I was at West London Synagogue (Reform) for Shabbat evening services ten years ago — in fact, it was there that I learned that Rabbi Alexander Schindler, retired president of the UAHC (now URJ) had died. I found the service to be very similar to what I was accustomed to, possibly because the then senior rabbi, Mark Winer, is an American. I don’t remember what siddur we used — it might have been Service of the Heart.

    Although I don’t know the respective body count of the two movements, the synagogue count is about equal, in the 35-40 range. Since I am fascinated by synagogue names, I reviewed the comprehensive roster on the WUPJ website. Not a single one of those listed is a Temple — they are synagogues, congregations, or communities. In most cases, their names are geographical, and don’t identify their denomination. Only fifteen of the seventy-plus have Hebrew in their names. I didn’t do a count, but it seemed as if the proportion of women in the UK Progressive rabbinate is even higher than here in the U.S.

    Anyway, thanks for finding this and posting it, and sending me off on one of my statistical searches.

  5. Pingback: Book Review: The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia - Man of la Book

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