Cambridge academic to oversee Progressive unification

A Cambridge academic has been appointed as Chair of the Advisory Board overseeing the unification of Reform and Liberal Judaism.

Dr Ed Kessler MBE – founder president of the Woolf Institute, which is based in Cambridge – will play a key role in the creation of one Progressive Judaism for the UK.

A member of Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue in Cambridge, and a vice president of Liberal Judaism, he said: “I am delighted to take up this role and help to deliver a new era for Progressive Judaism.

“I am passionate about the value of partnership and the need for a vibrant, sustainable Progressive Judaism that can amplify our voices in the UK and beyond.”

Referred to as “probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia” by The Times, Dr Ed Kessler was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.

In 1998 he founded the Woolf Institute with Revd Professor Martin Forward, with the goal to foster understanding and positive relations between communities in a world marked by increasing division and instability. It now has a permanent new home in the grounds of Westminster College, Cambridge.

The role of the Progressive Judaism Advisory Board is to support the two CEOs – Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy – as they work with sub groups, synagogues and clergy to form the vision of the new Progressive Movement and shape its implementation. It will exist for the length of the project.

Ruth Seager, chair of Liberal Judaism said: “I am looking forward to working with Ed in the creation of the new movement. He has been active within Progressive Judaism for a very long time and is a leading thinker in interfaith relations.”

Paul Langsford, chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism, added: “Ed, and his family, are passionate advocates for Progressive Judaism – believing in the unique offering of each movement and that is fulfilled to its best when working in partnership.”

More details about the work of the Advisory Board, and its other members, will follow.



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