There was an international flavour to the ordination ceremony for six Progressive rabbis held by Leo Baeck College at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood.
Hetty Groeneveld will be the Reform movement’s first female rabbi in Holland. Larry Becker taught at an inner city school and juvenile detention centre in his native Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to Israel. Rabbi Becker will serve the Sukkat Shalom congregation in Essex.
Cambridge graduate Nathan Alfred spent time in Hungary furthering his interest in chess — he is a former British junior champion — before turning his attention to rabbinic studies. Having been involved in Nottingham Progressive Synagogue, he intends to work for the International Jewish Centre in Brussels. Originally from Toronto, Matt Durbin has been a youth worker and head of the Ealing Liberal Synagogue religion school.
Another new woman rabbi is Kingston Liberal Synagogue’s Charley Baginsky, who has been active in Liberal Judaism since childhood and spent a period working in Israel. She says she is lucky to have a job combining her life’s passions: “Judaism, working with people and study.”
Richard Jacobi, who will be joining Woodford Liberal Synagogue, came late to the rabbinate following 20 years as a management consultant and trainer. He is the third Jacobi to be ordained by Leo Baeck after his father Harry and his sister Margaret, rabbi of the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue.