Reform movement

Rabbi confirmed in West London post

By Simon Rocker, February 1, 2011

Rabbi Julia Neuberger said she was thrilled to become the next senior rabbi of West London Synagogue after a ballot of members confirmed her appointment.

Baroness Neuberger, who will join part-time in March with the aim of becoming full-time in September, said: “This is the leading Reform synagogue in the UK and it’s a huge privilege to be asked to lead it.”

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West London voting on Baroness Neuberger

By Simon Rocker, January 20, 2011

Members of the Reform movement's flagship community, the West London Synagogue, were this week casting their votes on whether to accept Baroness Neuberger as their new senior rabbi.

The 60-year-old peer, who is president of Liberal Judaism, was unanimously recommended by the West London board to succeed Rabbi Mark Winer, who left in October. But her appointment is subject to a postal ballot of members, which closes next Friday.

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Baroness Neuberger set for West London

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2011

As predicted by the JC two weeks ago, the Lib Dem peeress Baroness Neuberger is set to be the new senior rabbi of the Reform movement’s flagship congregation, the West London Synagogue.

Rabbi Neuberger, 60, who is currently the president of Liberal Judaism, has been unanimously been recommended to succeed Rabbi Mark Winer by West London’s council.

But her appointment must still be confirmed by a ballot of synagogue members.

If she takes the post, it will be her first full-time pulpit since she served as rabbi of South London Liberal Synagogue from 1977 to 1989.

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Reform chief to leave for social action job

By Simon Rocker, December 2, 2010

The Reform movement’s leadership succession plans have been derailed by the decision of Rabbi Shoshaha Boyd Gelfand, the designated chief executive, to leave for a new job outside the organisation.

Rabbi Boyd Gelfand, the current executive director, was due to take over the professional reins of the organisation from Rabbi Tony Bayfield, who retires as head of movement at the end of the year.

But she has instead chosen to become the new director of JHub, the centre for Jewish social action enterprise and innovation.

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Reform leader Bayfield to retire early

By Simon Rocker, November 1, 2010

Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Movement for Reform Judaism, is to step down six months earlier than expected at the beginning of January.

The leader of the movement since 1995, he had been due to retire at the end of June shortly before his 65th birthday, with executive director Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand becoming chief executive - and the first female rabbi to be professional head of a British synagogue body.

But Rabbi Bayfield told members of the Reform council yesterday that the handover had gone so smoothly that he felt able to leave earlier.

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Lord Sacks criticised by progressive rabbi

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2010

A leading Progressive rabbi has launched a scathing attack on Lord Sacks and the British chief rabbinate.

Rabbi Dow Marmur said that although the outside world may regard Lord Sacks as representing British Jewry, his authority in the community was “dwindling”.

“When it is an incontrovertible fact…that Rabbi Sacks’ standing is declining, there are reasons to ignore him as much as possible,” Rabbi Marmur wrote in the new issue of Manna, the Progressive quarterly.

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West London announces Rabbi Winer's departure date

By Simon Rocker, August 19, 2010

The search has begun for a new spiritual leader for the Reform movement's flagship congregation, the West London Synagogue, after this week's announcement of the impending retirement of Rabbi Mark Winer.

Earlier this year, congregants were informed that Rabbi Winer, 67, would be stepping down, but without a date being given.

But West London chairman Jonathan Lass ended speculation in a letter informing members that Rabbi Winer would retire next month on Succot.

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Woman arrested for Western Wall prayer

By Jennifer Lipman, July 12, 2010

Progressive groups in Israel have spoken out against the arrest of a woman for attempting to read from the Torah at the Western Wall.

Police in Jerusalem brought Anat Hoffman in for questioning after she was found with the scroll at the time of morning prayers, in violation of a Supreme Court ruling requiring women to pray from the Torah at an alternative site.

It follows the arrest of another Israeli woman in 2009 for wearing a tallit and a kippah while carrying a Torah scroll at the Western Wall. Both acts have drawn fire from Israel’s strictly Orthodox groups.

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Jewish funeral service prepared for atheists and suicides

By Simon Rocker, March 18, 2010

A new funeral service published by the Reform Movement includes alternative material designed specifically for atheists.

As well as traditional prayers for a funeral or tombstone consecration, the book contains a large anthology of readings, with secular writers such as Saul Bellow, quoted alongside rabbis.

It also contains a prayer to be read at the burial of suicides, who are traditionally stigmatised in Jewish law.

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Brighton Reform is split on Siddur

By Yael Breuer, June 4, 2009

The editor of the new Reform Siddur has defended the prayer book against accusations of political correctness in the wake of criticism by the movement’s Brighton congregation.

An EGM at Brighton and Hove Reform voted to adopt the Siddur by a 36-14 majority with one abstention. Dissenters included vice-chair Debra Goodman, who claimed that many members were unhappy about the translation from Hebrew into English.

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