Reform and Liberal UK synagogue movements announce merger plan

Liberal Judaism and Movement for Reform Judaism will work together to create unified organisation


Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism have announced that they will be working together to create a unified Progressive Jewish movement for the UK.

Rabbi Josh Levy is to become the CEO of the Movement for Reform Judaism and will partner with his Liberal counterpart Rabbi Charley Baginsky to lead the project.

In a joint statement, MRJ co-chair Paul Langsford and Liberal Judaism chair Ruth Seager said: “Our lay leadership and clergy are clear that the future for Progressive Judaism is to have one shared movement to represent all of Britain’s Progressive Jews. It will mean that our reach, our voice and ultimately our Judaism will be stronger.

"Our movements have made a huge impact on the development of the Jewish and wider world but there is much more to do. And we believe this can be better achieved together.”

Rabbi Levy, currently principal rabbi of Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue), hailed the move as “an important moment for Progressive Judaism in Britain and beyond. Reform and Liberal Judaism share the same core values and outlook.

“Alyth is an amazing community to have served and I will miss working as a congregational rabbi. However, it is a unique opportunity for Progressive Judaism in the UK, working with movement staff, lay leaders, members and clergy and in deep partnership with Charley who has done great things in her leadership of Liberal Judaism.”

Rabbi Baginsky reported “a real sense of excitement in both Liberal and Reform Judaism about this move. In recent years we have grown together, hand in hand and organically, presenting us with this special opportunity.

“We believe the same things – for example, our welcome of mixed faith families and fully egalitarian services. We are as one on everything from campaigning for same-sex marriage to training rabbis and educators, to offering provision for students and young people.

“This is the next natural step for us both and I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead it alongside a colleague and friend in Josh.”

Liberal and Reform Judaism have been separate movements for over 120 years. The move to unite will bring the UK into line with most other countries, including Israel and America.

Progressive Jews together make up around 30 per cent of those who affiliated to UK synagogues. There are more than 80 Progressive communities reaching all parts of the country.

Rabbis for both movements are trained at the Leo Baeck College. 

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