Rabbi Kath Vardi and Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen have been appointed co-chairs of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors. They take over from Rabbis Kathleen Middleton and James Baaden who held the posts for the past two years.
Rabbi Kath is the rabbi to North West Surrey Synagogue in Weybridge and has been with the community since her ordination in 2018. Before joining the rabbinate Kath had a career in the NHS as a mental health nurse and later as a service manager.
She is committed to building diverse and inclusive Jewish spaces both in and outside the synagogue where Jewish meaning comes in all different shapes, colours, and expressions. As a result, Kath is currently completing a Masters in Faith Based Leadership with the University of Birmingham.
She said: “I am excited and honoured to be taking up this role alongside Rabbi Robyn and look forward to working with the wider Progressive Jewish community as we begin our journey together to strengthen the Progressive Jewish voice in the UK and build a new Progressive Movement.”
Rabbi Robyn is currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Rabbinic Leadership and Biblical Studies with the University of Leeds under an AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) scholarship. Since her undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies at Newnham College, Cambridge, Robyn has worked as a Human Rights lawyer before training for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College.
Upon ordination, Robyn was Manchester’s first female rabbi at Manchester Reform Synagogue. She appears in UK media, is a ‘Pause for Thought’ contributor on BBC Radio 2 and her work has been published in a variety of books and journals.
A regular on MRJ’s popular podcast ‘Rabbiting On’ Robyn said: “I really look forward to my time leading the Assembly as we build our Progressive Jewish future. I’m committed to helping create safe, anti-oppressive, relational, textured, activist communities, as we work together to organise a more just world.”