Southgate Progressive Synagogue


Vice President, Liberal Judaism


Rabbi Harry Jacobi was born in Berlin in 1925 and came to England from Holland following a double escape from the Nazis in 1939 and then 1940. On the latter occasion, he was one of 74 children saved by Gertuide Wijsmuller-Meijer (one of the Righteous Gentiles) on the last evening before the Dutch capitulation on 15th May 1940.

After settling in the UK, persuaded by a Presidential address by Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck to the 1949 World Union for Progressive Judaism Conference, Harry was ordained as a Liberal rabbi in 1961. In all, he served Southgate Liberal Synagogue for 19 years from 1956 to 1975.

Rabbi Jacobi moved to Harrow and Wembley Liberal Synagogue for seven years and then went abroad to help the Liberal congregation in Zurich Switzerland develop and grow, staying there for eight years. In semi-retirement, he ministered to the South Bucks Liberal Jewish Community, and for 10 years was the Chair of the Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Board (now the Beit Din), as well as assisting many progressive congregations in the UK and abroad.

Rabbi Jacobi is currently a Vice President of Liberal Judaism and was awarded the MBE by the Queen in July 2006. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a number of special events at different synagogues. He was overwhelmed when his colleagues showed their affection for him through the Festschrift “Responding To The Call” in his honour, edited by Rabbi Danny Rich, and available from Liberal Judaism.