Rabbi Professor Tony Bayfield CBE
In 1994 Rabbi Professor Tony Bayfield CBE was appointed as the Professional Head of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain - now the Movement for Reform Judaism - the first rabbi to hold that position, leading the development of its 2020 Vision which aims to address the key challenges facing British Jewry in the 21st century. He became President of the Movement for Reform Judaism in March 2011.
He was born in Ilford, Essex in 1946 and was educated at grammar school in Romford. He read law at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and had a doctoral place at the Cambridge Institute for Criminology before moving to the Leo Baeck College to train as a rabbi.
He received rabbinic ordination (semikhah) in 1972 from Rabbis John Rayner z”l, Hugo Gryn z”l and Louis Jacobs z”l.
After a decade as a congregational rabbi in Weybridge, Surrey he became the first Director of the Sternberg Centre for Judaism, the largest Jewish religious, educational and cultural centre in Europe.
Rabbi Bayfield teaches modern Jewish theology at the Leo Baeck College. He also specialises in Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim dialogue and has published widely in this area. Rabbi Bayfield is known to the public through pieces for National newspapers and broadcasts on the BBC; and he now has his own blog on The Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ website.
In November 2006 Rabbi Bayfield became only the third Jew in history to receive a Lambeth Degree, awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in recognition of his leadership in interfaith relations through lecturing, writing, teaching and in particular his work as a President of the Council of Christians and Jews.
Rabbi Bayfield has three children and five grandchildren. His younger daughter, Miriam, received semichah in July 2006 and is currently serving at Finchley Reform Synagogue.
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