By Simon Rocker
January 28, 2011
Unless there is some unforeseen rebellion among West London Synagogue members, Baroness Neuberger will shortly be confirmed as the oldest British Reform congregation’s new senior rabbi.
West Londoners who wanted to have a high-profile spiritual leader must be delighted to see the return to the pulpit one of the few rabbis whose face is well-known outside the community. She will certainly give the Progressive movement a louder voice on the national stage – she may even give the Chief Rabbi a run for his money.
It is interesting that although long identified with the Liberal movement (she is currently president of Liberal Judaism), she is now being welcomed into the arms of the Reform. The senior rabbi of the Liberal’s flagship congregation, LJS, is also a woman, Rabbi Alexandra Wright, who crossed in the other direction, from Reform to Liberal.
The Liberal and Reform movements may maintain their separate identities – having rejected a merger a couple of decades ago – but their rabbinates today are almost interchangeable.