17 September 2014
Liberal Judaism (LJ) and the Movement for Reform Judaism (MRJ) have today announced an alliance between their two movements. Together already accounting for nearly a third of synagogue-affiliated Jews, with 82 communities, the UK’s two Progressive movements are seeking to capitalise on the 30% growth in those identifying themselves as sharing their values, according to the recent JPR studies of Jewish communal attitudes.
The alliance will see an expansion of collaboration between the two movements in areas such as student chaplaincy, social justice and social action. It could also involve a strengthening of existing joint work such as rabbinic training, gap year programming and representation on Israel, cross-communal and other institutions. The alliance will see a sharing of resources and expertise across the two movements, wherever practical.
Liberal and Reform leaders stress that this is not a merger and that the two movements will retain their autonomy and distinct identities. The synagogues will remain constituent members of their respective movements practicing Judaism in the way that is most meaningful to them but the movements will unashamedly work together to speak for and reach out to the third of British Jews who describe themselves as secular, cultural or “just Jewish”.
Commenting on the alliance, Liberal Judaism’s Chief Executive, Rabbi Danny Rich, says: “The biggest dividing line in British Jewry is no longer Orthodox or Progressive, but religiously engaged or secular. We believe that, together, the two movements can provide an outward-looking, modern and relevant alternative to a merely secular form of Judaism, which could otherwise become the primary expression of Judaism within a couple of generations.”
Senior Rabbi to the Reform Movement, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, says: “There is so much more that unites the Reform and Liberal movements than divides us. The more we can cooperate, the stronger our voice and the stronger the expression of the core values we share in common: inclusiveness, integrity and informed choice. These are the values which our movements believe will enable Judaism to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.”