was brought up as an Orthodox Jew and went to one of the most Orthodox
Primary Schools in the country called Yesodey-Hatorah.
At thirteen I had my bar mitzvah. This is a Jewish ceremonial occasion
that marks the time when a young person is recognised as an adult
in the Jewish community.
I was seventeen, I visited Israel and saw a strict polarisation:
orthodox Judaism or secular Judaism, there was nothing in between.
there needed to be an alternative available, and decided to pursue
progressive Judaism. I studied to become a Rabbi at Leo Baeck College
Judaism believes that the Torah was written by humans but inspired
by the divine. It has some eternal truths for all time, but also
has other parts which are not as relevant for the modern Jew, e.g.
Orthodox Judaism disagrees with this, believing the Torah was written
by God through Moses and is an infallible document which no-one
can alter. Therefore it is as relevant today, as when it was first
ordained in 1970 and in 1974 moved to Leeds and started the Jewish
have now left the pulpit and work full-time in education. I visit
schools, lecture at colleges and Universities, teach courses for
teachers and spend a lot of time in interfaith dialogue.
I do not have my own synagogue, I do give input to synagogues across
the country and this is my sixth year of leading worship at Bradford
Bradford, there is quite a small Jewish population, which is ageing
and declining as birth rate declines. There are two synagogues.
In Shipley, there is an Orthodox synagogue, and in Bradford there
is a Progressive synagogue.
is quite hard to be an Orthodox Jew in a place without a large Jewish
population because of the strict dietary laws. In 1973 there were
eight Kosher butchers in Leeds, today there aren't any. Jews have
to either ignore the dietary laws, be vegetarian, or make long journeys
to Manchester or London where they can buy Kosher food.