By Rabbi Josh Levy and Rabbi Charley Baginsky
Co-Leads of Progressive Judaism
When we look back on 2023, it will be as a critical period in Jewish history. One in which it has been difficult to find the light and the optimism. We head into 2024 still holding a great deal of worry, mourning and distress.
Yet, at the same time, we – UK Progressive Judaism, and the whole Jewish community – are also at the beginning of something that is optimistic and ambitious.
The move to bring Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism together to form one Progressive Judaism in this country, is a moment of hope.
In a time of division and polarisation, this unification brings much needed possibilities: that we can unify, can come together to create something for the future, can look beyond small differences for a greater good. This is desperately important at this dark time.
The hope of this moment is also about what we can achieve by working together. We are currently in the process of holding forums with all of the 80+ Progressive communities, to talk about our plans and hear feedback and questions from members.
From these conversations, it is clear what Progressive Judaism has to offer the world – a sense that there can be an optimistic and hopeful future.
We believe that Progressive Judaism has a twofold purpose.
Firstly, to be a force for good in the world – playing an active role in shaping a society that reflects our Jewish values and our creativity.
If 2024 is a year of political change and further turmoil, then we must ensure that the Jewish community and the diverse voices within it are represented in these conversations. We need to recommit ourselves to the place of progressive religion in our society, as a response to the challenges of today and as a voice for positive change.
The second purpose is to fulfil the sacred task of creating and enabling Jewish life wherever people live in the UK.
We must help to strengthen our Progressive communities – from Eastbourne to Edinburgh and from Cornwall to Cambridge – so that they continue to fulfil their potential and offer a thriving Judaism that is rich, inclusive and innovative.
One of our greatest strengths is the individuality of our communities, offering a diversity of practice within shared values – providing an egalitarian space that combines the best of Jewish tradition with modern values, lifestyles and families.
This is a moment for Progressive Judaism to flourish. We believe that we can best achieve this by working together. And that, in so doing, we bring a moment of hope and light in a difficult and dark time.
This article also appears as the Leap of Faith in this week’s Jewish News