Progressive rabbinical training course attracts journalistic high-flyer and theatre director


A French campaigning journalist and an actor and theatre director are among an eclectic intake for the next five-year Progressive training programme for rabbis at Leo Baeck College.

The journalist  is Ann-Gaelle Attias, who has worked for the France 3 TV channel since 1998, focusing on European far-right movements in recent years. 

She is an active member of Rabbi Pauline Bebe’s CJL congregation in Paris, as is Matthias Elasri, who was a social worker before taking up acting. He led his own theatrical company until 2014, since when he has been the cultural attaché for four Parisian synagogues.

The new Leo Baeck group also includes German Dr Annette  Boeckler, who has translated a number of Jewish works into the language, as well as serving Progressive congregations in Berlin, London, Basel, Madrid, Montpellier and Lisbon. She has been the college’s librarian and senior lecturer in Bible and liturgy. Another rabbinical student is Anthony Lazarus Magrill , who grew up in London and has recently been involved in Jewish life in Cambridge, where he has been studying English literature.  

DY Stern is the current head of youth at New London Synagogue, prior to which he was head of education at Alyth Reform in Golders Green.

Keen Limmudnik Gabriel Webber led the Brighton Progressive cheder while studying politics and international relations at Sussex University. He returned to London to spend a year working for the Liberal Judaism youth movement, LJY-Netzer, and has since served Finchley Progressive Synagogue as community development manager.

The intake is completed by Lev Taylor, who has been involved in synagogues in Oxford, Barcelona, Istanbul and London, and William Carver, who has worked in the City and run his own business.

Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, the Leo Baeck dean, said: “In our 60th anniversary year, we are delighted to welcome a strong incoming group with diverse backgrounds and interests.

“We look forward to their development across the five years of our rabbinic programme and hope, through the interaction between the British and French students, to do our bit for the entente cordiale.”

Almost every serving Liberal and Reform rabbi in the UK, and many abroad, are graduates of the college.

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