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Noeleen Cohen appointed as the new Chair of Leo Baeck College

Photo of Noeleen CohenFollowing their Annual General Meeting last week, the Governors of Leo Baeck College are pleased to announce that Noeleen Cohen has been appointed as the new Chair. She replaces Alasdair Nisbet who is standing down, having led the board since 2010.

Alasdair said "In my time as Chair we have appointed an exciting and energetic new Principal in Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, created an innovative new Rabbinic training programme, expanded our teaching faculty, improved the engagement with our supporting Movements and reached out to other organisations. I am delighted that Noeleen has agreed to succeed me as Chair of the College. I am sure that she and Deborah will continue to make the College the preeminent place for training Rabbis outside America."

The governors paid tribute to Alasdair’s outstanding contribution over the past 10 years, thanking him for his tireless commitment to the work of the Leo Baeck College in the UK and wider Progressive Jewish world. Alasdair plans to remain very much involved both as a Patron and ambassador for the College.

Noeleen worked extensively in the consumer goods industry as a brand and marketing manager for both local and multi-national companies. As well as lecturing in branding and marketing, Noeleen taught literacy to children and adults in the townships of Johannesburg, where she was born and brought up. She continues her involvement with South Africa through her work with Ikamva La Bantu, an NGO that works to support vulnerable people in deprived township communities.

Noeleen and her family joined Alyth synagogue when they came to London in 1998. Noeleen serves as an honorary officer at Alyth. She is on the board of the Movement for Reform Judaism (MRJ) where she has held the education portfolio for the past three years and is due to step down shortly. This has been in addition to her role as a governor of Leo Baeck College since 2011. She is also on the board of PaJeS (Partnership for Jewish Education in Schools) as a representative for the UJIA.

Noeleen said: “Working with Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris and the board and getting to know the students and faculty has been extremely gratifying. Through this work, I am constantly reminded of the importance of the College to the Progressive Jewish Communities in the UK and Europe. We will build on the work that Alasdair set in motion and ensure that we continue to train inspirational Rabbis and Jewish Educators for future generations.”


Leo Baeck College Appointments


Leo Baeck College is delighted to announce that its Appointments Panel has bestowed the following titles to selected members of faculty:


Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, Professor of Jewish Theology and Thought
Dr Jeremy Schonfield, Rabbi John D Rayner Reader in Jewish Liturgy
Dr Leslie Bash, Reader in Jewish Education
Rabbi Sheila Shulman, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Thought


Rabbi Professor Tony Bayfield is the first professorial appointment at Leo Baeck College since Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris became Principal in 2011 and only the second in the College’s history. The appointment represents a significant life-time achievement for Rabbi Professor Bayfield. Previously Chief Executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Professor Bayfield has made major contributions to the development of Reform Judaism in the United Kingdom. In addition, he is nearing completion of a new book, which promises to be a substantial engagement with contemporary Jewish theology. Rabbi Professor Bayfield has taught theology at Leo Baeck College for many years.

Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal commented:

‘With these new appointments we are acknowledging the levels of scholarship and expertise in its faculty, and on which the College draws to provide the best possible and broadest education possible for its rabbinic and education students.’


South West Essex & Settlement Reform Synagogue is looking for a Community Educator

The Synagogue is seeking an inspirational Educator to be responsible for responding to the needs of our young people & their families, especially ensuring a relevant & sustainable programme of Jewish education for our B’nei Mitzvah. Approachable & genuine, this person will have a Jewish teaching qualification or equivalent and an understanding of British Reform Judaism.

Salary £12,480 - 13 hours flexible over 7 days/40 weeks (some evenings/ weekends).

Download the job description here

The Synagogue is  also seeking a dynamic Teacher to teach, support and contribute to our B’nei Mitzvah programme and to encourage the involvement of their families. With excellent communication and interpersonal skills, this person will have a proven ability to engage young people.

Salary £5,198 – 7.5 hours flexible per week/33 weeks (some evenings/weekends)

Download the job description here

Please contact our Chair, Myra Whiskar at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a Job Description & Person Specification

Closing date for applications: 22 April 2014 4.00pm



Special Guest Omid Djalili: Tuesday 20 May 2014

Photo of Omid Djalili

Special Guest Omid Djalili

British-born Iranian comic and actor Omid Djalili’s performances on stage and screen have won him plaudits the world over. Familiar to many from the BBC1 “The Omid Djalili Show”, his films such as films “The Infidel”, “The Mummy”, “Gladiator” and plays including the role of Fagin in the West-End smash-hit “Oliver!”. A committed member of the Baha’i faith, Omid promises to provide an insightful and entertaining evening for our guests.

To ensure that our guests have an enjoyable evening while supporting our important work for the community we have arranged for the event to be held at a conveniently located prestigious central London venue. You will be able to experience the excellent facilities on offer including elegant comfortable surroundings with top quality food and wine.

Reception 7.00 pm
Dinner 7.45 pm
Carriages 10.30 pm
Dress code: Black tie

Ticket price: £150. There will also be a fundraising appeal on the evening.

Full details about this special event and how to book from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Leo Baeck College solidarity with rabbinic alumni, student rabbi and their communities in Ukraine

As the rabbinical seminary which has ordained nine rabbis from the FSU over the last 16 years, we view with deep concern the events unfolding in Ukraine. We are shocked to hear of anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues led by our alumni and urge the authorities to do everything they can to protect and preserve the rights of religious minorities. On behalf of Leo Baeck College we express our solidarity with our rabbinic alumni, student rabbi and their communities in Ukraine and hope that peace and stability will soon be restored.

Leo Baeck College AGM

The College Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 31 March 2014 at 6.30 pm. We hope you will be able to join us to hear more about the highlights of the last year and our exciting plans for the future. There will be an opportunity for you to meet the governors and ask questions.

Download the documentation below:

AGM notice of papers

2013/2014 Annual Review



Lectures at Limmud by Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein


Marc Saperstein gave lectures both at Cambridge Limmud in early November and at the central Limmud in December. His article on “Midrash in Medieval and Early Modern Sermons”, appeared in Midrash Unbound: Transformations and Innovations, ed. Michael Fishbane and Joanna Weinberg (Oxford: Littman Library, 2013), 371–88. A brief article on Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschuetz appeared in the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR), 8 (2013): 455–57; an even briefer piece on Joyce’s Ulysses was published in . Jewish News, on 7th November. An expanded version of his Independent review of Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE–1492 CE, was published in “The Seforim Blog, 9th December, 2013:

In addition to teaching at King’s College London this term, Professor Saperstein is continuing to organize an international academic conference on “Rabbis and the Great War”, to be held at the West London Synagogue on 7th July, the day following the LBC Ordination. The College is a major sponsor of this event, which will feature scholars speaking on rabbis from 10 different countries, including who served as Chaplains in the German army during WWI, then came to England as refugees in the late 1930s or immediately after the war to serve in UK congregations.


A career in Jewish Education

Would you like to be a Head Teacher of a Religion School?

Are you looking to progress in your current job?

Are you involved in youth work?

If so, Leo Baeck College  have two exciting part-time study opportunities in Jewish Education:

BA (Hons) in Jewish Education

MA in Jewish Education

Find out what our current students say about our courses


Jewish Book Week: In Conversation with the Bible

In conversation with the Bible

To mark the publication of his latest book of reflections on the Bible, 'A Rabbi Reads the Torah', and 'Welcome to the Cavalcade' (a Festschrift in honour of his 70th birthday), Jonathan Magonet was in conversation with novelist and critic Professor Gabriel Josipovici. They shared their fascination with the text of the Hebrew Bible, with the craft of interpretation and the art of “writing with Scripture”. This session was chaired by Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarahm from Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue.

Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, former Principal of Leo Baeck College, is a Bible scholar, liturgist and songwriter. He is the author of six books of popular Biblical studies, and has moved into fiction with Netsuke Nation: Tales from Another Japan. He is the editor of the journal European Judaism.

Professor Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940 and lived in Egypt from 1945 to 1956. He read English at Oxford and taught at the University of Sussex from 1963 to 1998. He is the author of sixteen novels, four collections of stories, numerous radio and stage plays, and several critical books. His study of the Bible, The Book of God, came out in 1988, and Carcanet will publish his latest novel, Hotel Andromeda, in May 2014.

Rabbi Howard Cooper is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice and Director of Spiritual Development at Finchley Reform Synagogue. He writes on Biblical, Judaic and psychological themes and is a co-editor of Welcome to the Cavalcade: a Festschrift in Honour of Rabbi Jonathan Magonet.

Induction service at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue

RabbiLeaInduction 06-1The induction service in November 2013 truly showed that Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue and its new Rabbi Lea Mühlstein make a perfect match. The service was attended by a large number of synagogue members, representatives of the wider Jewish and non-Jewish communities as well as friends and family of Rabbi Lea. The atmosphere was filled with warmth and joy and it was a highlight for all to see the space in front of the ark filled with literally hundred children during the induction prayer by Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and the induction blessing by Rabbi Andrew Goldstein.

Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris speaks at the Women of Reform Judaism’s YES Fund Breakfast in San Diego

Photo of Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris by Dale Lazar Towards the end of last year, I had the great privilege of speaking at the Women of Reform Judaism’s YES Fund Breakfast in San Diego, California. The 2013 breakfast, held as part of their biennial conference, was especially exciting as it marked their centennial. In 1913 the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (the name was changed in 1993 to reflect changing social attitudes WRJ) was founded as an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism. In its early years, the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods campaigned on a range of issues including rights for women, relief efforts during both the 1st and 2nd World Wars, and the rights of Jews to settle in Palestine among many other issues. But going back to its beginnings, WRJ has always supported rabbis and rabbinical students.

At the YES Fund Breakfast, I heard a number of other speakers, including Rabbi Professor David Ellenson, Emeritus President of HUC-JIR, talk about how the WRJ had supported Hebrew Union College, raising funds not only for students, but also for infrastructure like dormitories. During the 1930s, WRJ helped to bring German rabbinical students to the United States in order for them to have a safe place to complete their studies after the Nazis closed the doors of higher learning to Jews. Today, WRJ continues their crucial work of supporting rabbinic training. They continue to raise money for HUC-JIR’s many campuses, including supporting the work of training progressive rabbis in Israel.

But just as important to us, for many years now the WRJ’s YES Fund has been raising money to support European rabbis as well. Today virtually all of LBC’s continental European rabbinical students, including Russian students, receive some support from WRJ – a contribution for which we are most grateful. Many European and Russian communities simply cannot afford to fund rabbinical training for their students here in London. While LBC is happy to do its part to help, we are delighted that we have such gracious partners as WRJ. They were thrilled to hear my stories of Spain and France and the Ukraine, to name just a few of the countries our rabbinic students hail from.

I left the YES Fund Breakfast with an overwhelming feeling of support – 500+ women applauding loudly is truly heart-warming. So my deepest thanks to the WRJ for enabling me to address them, connect with their membership, and solidify our foundational relationship with them as we move forward towards another 100 years together.

Photography by Dale Lazar


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