Rais­ing the voice of Re­form

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

dy­namic ‘fantab­u­lous’.”

That is why she is now writ­ing a book on the trans­fer­ence of re­li­gious power, “from the ivory tower to grass­roots move­ments”.

A fem­i­nist, the great-niece of the late Chief Rabbi Is­rael Brodie, who read divin­ity at Cam­bridge Univer­sity be­fore she en­rolled at Leo Baeck Col­lege in 2004, says she is “su­per grate­ful to the women in the gen­er­a­tion be­fore me who put up with all the rub­bish”.

Though she works with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on com­mon is­sues from the Holo­caust and an­ti­semitism — she be­lieves his widely hailed Lim­mud visit last year was blown out of pro­por­tion.

“The bar was set pretty low be­fore,” she says. “It’s the largest, most vi­brant Jewish event. Ob­vi­ously, he should have come. It’s out­ra­geous he didn’t be­fore.”

The North Western Re­form Sy­n­a­gogue mem­ber be­lieves: “We undo a lot of the trauma. We get an enor­mous amount of, ‘I was treated badly in Or­tho­doxy. How can I com­fort my part­ner?’

“There is a very strong dif­fer­ence in how the Re­form Move­ment treats con­ver­sions. Our con­cern is that peo­ple who want to be Jewish can be. I be­lieve ev­ery­one is a Jew by choice.

“My driv­ing force is to give peo­ple on the mar­gins a voice. That’s what I’m pas­sion­ate about.”

The for­mer South Hamp­stead School pupil sees her strong teenage spirit in her three chil­dren — Tali, Natan and Ella — and would not be sur­prised if they too be­came rab­bis. For now, she lives in east Finch­ley with her hus­band David, a for­mer direc­tor at the UJIA, but they have not ruled out mak­ing aliyah in the future.

“I’m much more Is­raeli in my per­son­al­ity, but I re­ally adore liv­ing in Bri­tain,” she says pol­ish­ing off a bag of nuts at the end of our in­ter­view.

“I’m very much a split soul. I spend my life back­wards and for­wards. I am global warm­ing.

“But aliyah? I’m cer­tainly not rul­ing it out.”

PHOTO: MICHELLE MOR­RIS

Rabbi Jan­nerKlaus­ner with Baroness Neu­berger, the se­nior rabbi at West Lon­don Sy­n­a­gogue

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