Seven new lay service leaders as Ba’alei Tefillah class graduates

31 January 2024 – 21 Shevat 5784

Seven Progressive Jews have graduated from the Liberal Judaism Ba’alei Tefillah service leadership course.

The programme was set up in 2010 to help train lay service leaders to support Liberal congregations of all sizes.

Those graduating so far in 2024 are Marianne Lederman (Stevenage Liberal Synagogue), Marc Schulz (The Ark Synagogue), Sophia Spiegel (Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue and Cork Jewish Community), Howard Duckworth (York Liberal Jewish Community and The Ark), Fabrizio Melis (The South London Liberal Synagogue), Daniel White (South Bucks Jewish Community) and Danny Lang (Beit Klal Yisrael).

Others on the course have opted to continue studying and will graduate once that process is complete.

Liberal services often rely on lay leaders, sometimes because the community does not have a rabbi or cantor, sometimes because they are unavailable and sometimes in order to offer a different service experience.

Liberal Judaism’s Director of Development and Membership Alexandra Gellnick explains: “Of Liberal Judaism’s three founders in 1902 – Claude Montefiore, Lily Montagu and Rabbi Dr Israel Mattuck – only one was ordained.

“In 1943, Miss Lily was then one of the first small group of lay ministers appointed by the movement. A certificate was awarded to each of them and they could carry out many of the functions of a minister.

“Today, we need lay service leaders just as much as they did then which is why, with the essential support of the NLPS Trust, we offer the Ba’alei Tefillah course.

“This is not only of the continuation of a strong Liberal tradition, but also a wonderful sign of the desire to invest in the spiritual and intellectual future of Progressive Judaism.”

Over the course of at least two years – and under the leadership of rabbis, tutors and a personal mentor – Ba’alei Tefillah participants learn to lead Friday night and Saturday morning services, write and deliver sermons, deal with bimah choreography and all the many other aspects of service-leading.

Since 2010, 89 members of 35 different congregations have completed the course.

New graduate Marianne Lederman said: “I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the course, and particularly the interaction with the other participants. My community was very helpful, providing me with a lot of support and with many service-leading opportunities.”

Classmate Marc Schulz added: “What I found most helpful about the course was the opportunity to meet other service leaders and learn about the challenges they face in their communities and their approaches to overcoming them.

“I always wanted to lead services not only for my own community but for others as well, and learning about the experiences of the other students helped me a lot to prepare for that.”

  • Picture: Rabbi Anna Wolfson with some members of the Ba’alei Tefillah class

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