Community Links

Representative Council of Birmingham & West Midlands Jewry

Liberal Judaism

The Board of Deputies of British Jews

World Union For Progressive Judaism
The international umbrella organization of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements, serving 1,200 congregations in more than 50 countries
European Union For Progressive Judaism
The European region of the World Union, working to foster and stimulate the growth of Progressive Judaism throughout Europe and supporting more than 170 communities
Netzer Olami
The international Reform Zionist youth movement of the World Union, conducting activities for more than 16,000 active young members in Israel and the Diaspora
Union for Reform Judaism (North America)
Liberal Judaism’s sister movement in the USA and Canada, which is the largest Jewish denomination in North America and has a strong commitment to social justice for all
Movement for Reform Judaism (UK)
Forming an Alliance for Progressive Judaism, Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism together account for nearly a third of synagogue-affiliated Jews in the UK
Leo Baeck College
Britain’s pre-eminent institution of Jewish scholarship and learning, sponsored by Liberal Judaism and training Progressive rabbis and educators equipped for the 21st century
The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism
The umbrella organization of all the Reform communities and institutions in Israel, the IMPJ believe in the right of each individual to shape their own Jewish way of life
Israel Religious Action Centre
Israel’s preeminent civil and human rights organisation, addressing issues of religion and state, IRAC is the public and legal advocacy arm of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism
The Friends of Progressive Judaism in Israel & Europe
The only charity in the UK raising funds solely for Progressive Jewish causes. Donors may, if they wish, specify which area and even which project they want to support
Working to support Progressive Judaism in Israel and to promote Israel in Progressive Jewish communities in the UK, Pro-Zion has a vision based on liberal values

Our Rabbi

Rabbi Dr. Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Dr. Margaret JacobiI have been the rabbi of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue since 1994. I grew up in a Liberal Jewish family, and was an active member of ULPSNYC (now LJY-Netzer). I studied medicine at Birmingham University and then started a career in medical research, gaining a PhD in physiology and working for two years in St. Louis Missouri, USA. Whilst in St. Louis, I decided to embark on my long-held aim of studying for the Rabbinate. My studies included two years at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and before completing my studies at Leo Baeck College.

Liberal Judaism

What is Liberal Judaism?

Judaism has never stood still. It has always moved forward, sometimes slowly, sometimes faster. Its history is a history of continuity and change.Affirmation 23


Liberal Judaism affirms the dynamic, developing character of our Jewish religious tradition.

Questing and questioning, Liberal Judaism is an authentic and modern form of Judaism, rooted in a deep and meaningful engagement with Jewish texts, values, culture and history. We are a movement with a sense of purpose, engaged in community life, study, spirituality and social action. We believe in personal freedom and responsibility and the shared and collective bonds that unite us as Jewish people and members of humanity. We actively choose to live out our Judaism as part of a community and welcome those who grew up as Jewish and those who, later in life, have become accepted into Judaism. We are inclusive and egalitarian, giving equal status within Judaism to those traditionally excluded. We help all our members to embark on their personal Jewish journeys. We want Judaism to be a positive, joyous and active part of our members’ lives, and for them to use it to enrich their relationships with those around them.

We are inspired by the Prophets, who combined a sincere commitment to Judaism with a constant regard and concern for the universal values that should guide all ethical behaviour. We believe that tikkun olam (repair of the world) is a fundamental mission for us as Liberal Jews and humanity as a whole. This tikkun should happen on four levels: the personal/interpersonal, the communal, the Jewish and global. Walking In the footsteps of the Prophets, Liberal Jews can be constructive irritants to the mainstream, and/or influence the mainstream with integrity and impact. We take tough, sometimes unpopular, stances on issues of Jewish concern, striving at all times to behave with honesty, respect and empathy. 

We are welcoming, open and forward-looking. We engage with society as we find it, and lead from the front. We play an active role in building collaboration across the Jewish community and with other faiths and causes.

Effective collaboration is about finding common ground and embracing, accepting or working through differences. Working together, we can produce a result which no one person or organization could have achieved alone. Not only do we maintain a solid presence in all of British Jewry’s major forums – for instance, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council – but we also face outwards, contributing to society, working alongside other faiths to foster peace. As members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (and European Union of Progressive Judaism) we are part of the worldwide Jewish majority of non-Orthodox Jews and are committed to the future of Progressive Judaism both in the UK and across the world.

Rabbi John D Rayner z”l once said that it is better to be few and right than many and wrong. As a national movement, we plan to keep growing, attract new members and support. We develop communities who wish to join us, reach people that other Jewish communities cannot or do not, and engage with all who are open, sincere and progressive in their Judaism.

The synagogue is at the heart of the community. We run more activities for more people in more places and in a greater variety of formats than ever before. We are also finding other models of communal engagement, investing in what has potential and being open to what our members want from us, rather than imposing “one size fits all” structures onto them.

We put special value on Jewish learning, appreciating different perspectives and ways of relating to Judaism, whether it is through study, prayer, worship and other forms of social, cultural and communal activity. Our synagogues are places for groups of our members to engage with their Judaism, be religiously served and fulfilled and enjoy each other’s company.

We affirm a love for the Land of Israel and a strong commitment to the State of Israel. We pray for her people, care about her security and wish to enact the vision of her founders of a Jewish state for all its inhabitants, at peace with its neighbours, democratic and prosperous. We promote a two-state solution and oppose all boycotts. We also strive to emphasise the value of, and to nurture, the unique symbiosis between Israel and the Diaspora. We combine this vision of Israel with strong support for religious pluralism within the State, and partner with selected organisations within Israel to advance the cause of Progressive Judaism inside Israel and the rights of all Israelis, including those of other faiths and none.

Liberal Judaism arose in the 19th century and throughout the 20th and will further evolve in the 21st century. We have stayed true to the aims of our founders, whilst blossoming into a national movement of dozens of synagogue communities and many thousands of members. We have been an active participant in all of the key intellectual, political and religious discussions of British Jewry over the last one hundred years, and our public profile has never been greater. 

We are proud to be liberal and proud to be Jewish, and will always engage with others on shared values and interests, whether it be in tackling climate change and other risks to the environment, poverty, inequality and other forms of injustice.

Recalling the Holocaust and his experience in concentration camps, Viktor Frankl z”l once said that between stimulus and response is the space of true freedom. It is up to us as Liberal Jews to make positive choices that will make the world a better place, whilst also listening and relating to others on their own terms.

It is through such a dynamic interaction that we discover more about others and more about ourselves, where we can be most relevant and make a lasting contribution.

Rabbi Harry Jacobi

I am very grateful for all the messages condolence and support from the congregation following the death of my father, Rabbi Harry Jacobi. Being a child refugee himself, in recent years, my father became very involved with the work of Safe Passage, which works to help child refugees in Calais and across Europe. His wish was that donations could be given in his memory to Safe Passage. If you would like to, you can donate through:

Or, you can send a cheque to Safe Passage, 136 Cavell Street, London E1 2JA, earmarked in memory of Rabbi Harry Jacobi.

With thanks,

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi.