skip to Main Content

Rabbi James Baaden – Joint Co-Chair

Rabbi James Baaden is one of our two co-chairs of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors.

Rabbi Baaden spent most of his formative years in the United States and Canada.  At the end of the 1970’s James returned to the UK as a student.  During the 1980’s he worked as a journalist in the field of “religious affairs” and then worked in social research and public policy. He was also a Trade Union Officer.

In the early 1990’s Rabbi James studied at Leo Baeck College.  He was ordained in 2001 and spent eight years as Rabbi of South London Liberal Synagogue.

Rabbi James became associate Rabbi of Shaarei Tzedek in 2012.


Rabbi Kathleen Middleton – Joint Co-Chair

Rabbi Kathleen Middleton is one of our two co-chairs of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors.

Rabbi Kathleen was born in Utrecht, Netherlands. She was awarded an MA in Semitic Languages and Cultures at the University of Amsterdam in 1994, and an MA in Jewish Studies at the Leo Baeck College in 1999.

In 2000 Rabbi de Magtige-Middleton was ordained as a Rabbi at the Leo Baeck College; in the same year she was appointed full-time minister at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. John’s Wood, London.

Rabbi Middleton was appointed as Minister of Middlesex New Synagogue (now Mosaic Reform) in 2008.


Read about the appointment of two new chairs to Reform Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors

Seven Principles for Safer Synagogues – Rabbi Josh Levy, July 2021

  • Principle 1: Settings have the right and obligation to set their own rules
  • Principle 2: Success looks different in the context of an endemic Covid.
  • Principle 3: No one should feel pressure to return.
  • Principle 4: There is still a risk that needs to be managed
  • Principle 5: Communication remains crucial
  • Principle 6: ‘The way we always did it’ might not yet be the safe way
  • Principle 7: It is reasonable to have high expectations of members


Principle 1:  Settings decide their own rules.

All synagogues are still allowed and expected to set their own protocols and guidelines, to develop their own procedures and behaviours that are right for their setting. We may be permitted to relax in many ways, but this does not mean that we have to. Public health advice remains to exercise caution.

Principle 2: “Success” looks different in the context of endemic Covid.

For the time being, success for Places of Worship is not about maximising capacity or returning to “normal” as soon as possible, but about working to create joyful and meaningful in-person services while also continuing to mitigate risk and serving the needs of those unable to return.

Principle 3:  No one should feel pressure to return.

Not everyone can or will come back to synagogue in person at this stage. We should not expect, or want them to. Those who are especially at risk, or for whom the vaccine is likely to be less efficacious, should be encouraged to seriously consider their wellbeing. Those who are unwell must not feel a pressure to come into our buildings.

Principle 4:  There is still a risk that needs to be managed.

The link between infection and ill health / death has been weakened, but Covid remains dangerous, and the way in which it is transmitted has not changed. The nature of our activities means they remain dangerous, and a risk of “super spreading”. This is especially true of singing which is so central to our prayer life. We should therefore still be conscious of important features of our buildings and prayer lives.

Principle 5:  Communication remains crucial.

Living with Covid requires the development of new habits in personal behaviour. Institutions can encourage this through clear and responsible messaging. Key measures might include:  pre-booking procedures, advance information on expected behaviours, visual cues and signs, entry and one-way systems.

Principle 6 :  “The way we always did it” may not be the safe way.

It remains necessary to rethink key aspects of synagogue life in order to mitigate associated risk. Everything does not need to go back to as it was immediately, and some features of our communal life may never return to pre-Covid practice.

Principle 7:  It is reasonable to have high expectations or members.

We are all partners in making our communities as safe as possible. It is the responsibility of everyone in our communities not to put others at risk. It is therefore, not unreasonable to have high expectations of those attending synagogue.

The Movement for Reform Judaism Chanukkah Message 2021

Back To Top