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Statement on Progressive Judaism

PRESS RELEASE

Picture: Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy

Dear Members,

On behalf of the MRJ Board of trustees, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Rabbi Josh Levy as CEO of the Movement for Reform Judaism and to set out our plans alongside Liberal Judaism to create a vision for Progressive Judaism in the UK.

Rabbi Josh Levy is currently Principal Rabbi of Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue). With the agreement of Alyth, he will begin this new role on May 1st part-time, moving to full time on the 1st of November.

Rabbi Levy joined Alyth, in North London, in 2008. A child of Menorah (Cheshire Reform Congregation) and of RSY-Netzer, he has worked at a number of other Reform synagogues. He is a former Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors, has served as Chair of the Standing Committee of the Reform Beit Din, and is a Lecturer at Leo Baeck College. He comes with a wealth of experience as well as a lifelong commitment to Reform Judaism.

This appointment is also unique as he will be working in close partnership with Liberal Judaism’s CEO, Rabbi Charley Baginsky, to lead the creation of a new Movement to represent all of Britain’s Progressive Jews. This will bring the UK in line with most other countries, including the United States and Israel, which operate with one united Progressive Jewish movement.

Progressive Jews together make up around 30% of those who are affiliated to synagogues in the UK. There are more than 80 Progressive communities reaching all parts of the country. Rabbis for both movements are trained at the Leo Baeck College.

To be very clear, no one will be asked to change their synagogue name, their Reform identity, or change their prayerbook. This is about a greater resourcing of communities. As a unified group, we will be stronger and our voice will be clearer and louder. We will be able to make an even bigger contribution to the wider Jewish community both in the UK and beyond our shores. We do this for not just ourselves, but for our children and future generations. We safeguard Judaism for the future.

This proposal is fully supported by the Trustees of the Movement for Reform Judaism and is one which recognises the voices we have heard from our clergy and lay leadership.

We recognise that the success of our future endeavors needs your input and we remain committed to leading alongside you and ensuring that there are regular chances to hear from you and update you. All final decisions will be subject to approval of a General Meeting.

There will be monthly update meetings which will work in conjunction with additional meetings and discussions with senior leadership, clergy, staff and lay leadership.

Paul Langsford on behalf of the trustees for the Movement for Reform Judaism

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