Rabbi Dr Werner Van Der Zyl and the Creation of Leo Baeck College. The German Rabbinate Abroad: Transferring German-jewish Modernity Into the World?

Magonet, Jonathan
October 2012
European Judaism;Oct2012, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p103
Academic Journal
The two 'progressive' Jewish movements in the UK, the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now the Movement for Reform Judaism) and the Union of Liberal and Progressive Judaism (now Liberal Judaism) grew considerably in the interwar years helped by the influx of refugee rabbis from Germany. Already in the 1940s unsuccessful plans were considered for transferring the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums to the UK. It was not until 1956 that what was to be called the Jewish Theological College of London was inaugurated by the Reform movement with two students, to be renamed Leo Baeck College in his honour on his death shortly afterwards. The prime mover and first director of studies was Rabbi Dr Werner van der Zyl, himself a graduate of the Hochschule and a rabbi in Berlin till his emigration to the UK. While serving as minister at North Western Reform Synagogue and the West London Synagogue, he oversaw the creation of the College and the subsequent additional sponsorship by the Liberal Movement. He brought to the task the open-minded scholarship and pluralism of the Hochschule and the sophistication of Berlin.


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