Three moments stand out as we reflect on 2023.
The first was the day in April when we announced that the Movement for Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism would be uniting to create one single Progressive Judaism for the UK.
It was a moment of hope and excitement – the most important development in Anglo-Jewry since the end of the Second World War.
Together, we will now represent one third of Jews who are affiliated to synagogues in the UK and be able to better reach out to all those who identify as Jewish but have not yet joined a community. It is also a recommitment to create a Progressive Judaism that is innovative and thoughtful; enabling an inclusive and egalitarian Jewish life wherever in the country Jews live.
The second moment, one we shared with Jews across the world, was of pain and mourning.
Saturday 7 October should have been a day of joyful celebration – as Progressive Jews marked Simchat Torah. Instead barbaric acts of terror by Hamas destroyed families and communities. We pray for the return of those still held hostage and share in the suffering of those who have been bereaved.
The conflict that has followed, and the rise in both antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred here in the UK, also serves as a reminder of why the work we announced in April so important. The Progressive Jewish voice must be heard in conversations about Israel, faith and society. Our values must shape this discourse. One example was the statement of Jewish principles in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict at ourjewishvalues.org.uk, which we helped to formulate and has now been signed by more than 5,000 Jews from all denominations.
The third moment came at Chanukah, where we and our colleagues in the Progressive clergy were guests and lit candles at civic events in Parliament, 10 Downing Street, the Guildhall, Scotland Yard, the American Ambassador’s Residence and Wembley Stadium. This was a visual illustration of just how far Progressive Judaism has come since April – that working together we are so much more than the sum of our parts.
This year will be a time of change and transition. Progressive Judaism will continue to bring moments of hope and light in what are often difficult times.
Rabbi Levy and Rabbi Baginsky are the joint CEOs of Progressive Judaism