Danny Rich (rabbi)

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Rabbi Danny Rich
Born South London
Nationality British
Occupation rabbi
Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism
Children 4[1]

Rabbi Danny Rich is the Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom.

Early life and education[edit]

Danny Rich was born in South London, and attended Hearnville Primary School and Sir Walter St. John's Grammar School, where he was head boy.[2] Following his A-levels in German, History, and Government and Politics, he worked for the London Fire Brigade before entering Manchester University to study Politics and Modern History, doing his undergraduate thesis on The Palestinian Experience in Jordan: 1948–1970 and maintaining an active role in student politics, being twice elected chairperson of Manchester University Students Union. During this time, he also served as a visiting lay minister for Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation, and as a teacher/service leader at Manchester Reform Synagogue.[3] In 1984, Rich began rabbinical training at Leo Baeck College, a privately funded rabbinical seminary in the UK for Liberal and Reform rabbis.[4] While there, he continued to serve at Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation, and began teaching at North Western Reform Synagogue (Alyth Gardens).[2] He served as an assistant to Rabbi Julia Neuberger at South London Liberal Synagogue, as part-time minister to Kingston Liberal Synagogue, and as student rabbi to Hull and South Hampshire Reform communities, before returning to serve as the full-time Rabbi at Kingston in 1988, where he was ordained in 1989.[5]

Kingston Liberal Synagogue and public service[edit]

As Kingston Liberal Synagogue's first full-time rabbi, Rich served until 2004, when he was appointed emeritus rabbi.[6][7] During his period of service at Kingston, he co-founded and chaired the Kingston Interfaith Forum, a group to promote communication and understanding between the faith groups in the borough.[8] He also served as the director of Kadimah Summer Camp from 1990-2005.[9] In 1996, he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace (magistrate) in the Kingston Court, presiding over cases until the court's closure in 2011, when he presided over the court's last trial.[10][11][12] Rabbi Rich also serves as a prison, hospital and hospice chaplain.[13][14] He is currently Jewish chaplain to Her Majesty’s Prison Coldingley, and formerly to the open prison Latchmere House until the prison’s closure in 2011, as well as for Kingston Hospital, and Oaklands National Health Service (NHS) Trust.[15][16][17] He also served as Jewish mental health chaplain to Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.[18] As a part of his involvement as a prison chaplain, he received a diploma in criminology from the Scarman Centre for the Study of Public Order (Leicester University) in 2001.[19] He is a former Trustee of Mental Aid Projects a former Governor at Hinchley Wood Junior School.[5]

Liberal Judaism[edit]

In 2004, Rich was named as the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, a progressive Jewish movement founded in the UK in the early part of the 20th century.[20][21] Rabbi Rich was preceded in this role by Harriet Karsh, who had assumed the role from her predecessor, Rabbi Dr. Charles Middleburgh.[22][23] Prior to this appointment, Rich had served as the chair of the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism, a board composed of all the Rabbis serving Liberal synagogues in the UK that meets regularly to discuss and rule on rabbinic matters, determining courses of action or principles of faith.[24]

He is on the board of governors at Leo Baeck College, where he had served previously as the director of the college's Apprenticeship, Internship and Mentoring Program.[25] A regular in the media, Danny makes frequent appearances on the BBC, Sky TV, ITV and in Jewish and national press.

Interfaith affiliations[edit]

Many of Rich's affiliations reflect a position of the promotion of interfaith understanding. He is the UK regional representative for the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ).[26] He also holds a Certificate in Jewish/Muslim relations from the Woolf Institute, Cambridge.[19][27] He is an organiser and frequent contributor to Scriptural Reasoning, an organisation that promotes shared scriptural readings between Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths.[28][29] He is one of the presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews,[30][31] He is a co-founder of the Surrey Three Faiths Forum, and in 2011 became a founding member of the Council of Imams and Rabbis.[32][33]

The JFS case[edit]

In 2009, a case was brought before the High Court where a 12-year-old boy, referred to in the case as M, was denied entry to the Jewish Free School (JFS) because, although his father was born a Jew and both his father and mother actively practised the Jewish faith, the mother had converted to Judaism in a non-Orthodox synagogue, failing to meet the school's criteria for the child being Jewish.[34] As a spokesperson for Liberal Judaism (which recognizes patrilineal as well as matrilineal Jewish descent), Rich was actively vocal in supporting M's case, stating that JFS, as a state-funded school, had an obligation to be open to all forms of Judaism.[35][36] The school was found to be in violation of the Race Relations Act, and is now required to admit its students on the basis of Jewish faith, rather than by the maternal blood line.[37] Following the court's decision, Danny Rich, along with Liberal Judaism chairman Lucian J. Hudson, issued a statement in The Jewish Chronicle in support of the ruling, stating that JFS had "risked the Jewish community being portrayed as more concerned with petty, territorial squabbles than providing the best of Jewish education to the widest number of Jews".[38]

Same-sex marriages[edit]

Rich is a vocal proponent in favour of legalising same-sex unions.[39] In 2005, Liberal Judaism under the direction of Rich became the first mainstream religious movement in the UK to publish an official liturgy for same-sex commitment ceremonies.[40] In February 2013, Rich presented evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee looking into the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, reiterating Liberal Judaism’s stance on the issue, stating that "although Liberal Judaism respects the right of other religious movements to decline to conduct marriages which go against their teachings, and to have this right protected in law, it also seeks, in the name of freedom of religion, the right to conduct marriages which it sees as legitimate, and as an important pastoral service to its members."[41]

Considered Engagement controversy[edit]

In January 2012, Rabbi Rich drew criticism for sharing a debate panel with an anti-Israel activist.[42] He stood by his decision to do so, citing Liberal Judaism’s policy of Considered Engagement, a policy where the movement's chief executive, chairman and other national officers review invitations to participate in events based on their goals, even if the hosting or participating organisation are not in accord with the policies of Liberal Judaism.[43]

The confirmation of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis[edit]

When Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was named Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in December 2012, Rich issued a statement welcoming his appointment, but said that the hardest part of the job would be recognising that the position "no longer represents a large section of the community".[44]

Criticisms of Ralph Miliband in the Daily Mail[edit]

On 27 September 2013, the Daily Mail published an article on sociologist Ralph Miliband (whose sons went on to become senior members of the British Labour Party), criticising him for his Marxist ideals and calling him "the man who hated Britain".[45] Rich responded in The Observer, Evening Standard, The Jewish Chronicle and Sky News, offering comment that the newspaper was "playing with fire," and that the article "gives legitimacy to those that seek to cast all refugees and immigrants as ‘outsiders’ and question their loyalty."[46][47][48][49]

Expanded religious education in the UK school system[edit]

In October 2013, A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England was issued by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, stating is part that, "All children need to acquire core knowledge and understanding of the beliefs and practices of the religions and worldviews which not only shape their history and culture but which guide their own development."[50] Rich wrote acolumn in Haaretz in support of the publication, calling for comprehensive religious education in both single-faith and secular schools, stating that "religious education has never been more important".[51]

The "pickling" of Judaism by the Charedi[edit]

The 2012 statistics report for Britain’s Jewish Community, issued in November 2013 by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, noted a "natural increase" in Britain's Jewish population, with specific mention of Britain's Charedi (Orthodox) community, who were responsible for four out of every ten Jewish births and more than three in ten weddings.[52] In response to these numbers, Rich issued remarks that have generated some controversy, stating that the Orthodox community "pickled" Jewish tradition rather than preserving it, by refusing to engage with the outside world.[53][54]

The admission of Syrian refugees into the UK[edit]

In January 2014, Rich took part in a delegation of rabbis who delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street, calling on the government to allow Syrian refugees into the UK. He issued a statement that read in part, "For Jews, Jewish teaching demands that we find ways of alleviating the suffering and in the name of our faith we call on the British government to allow Syrian refugees into the UK."[55]



  1. ^ "Chief Executive Danny Rich". Liberal Judaism. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Get To Know Rabbi Danny Rich of Kingston Liberal Synagogue" (PDF). Temple Rodef Shalom Bulletin. July–August 2000. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Rabbi Danny Rich biography". Liberaljudaism.org. 20 December 1996. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Jewish Power 100 in the UK". Radio Islam. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Rabbi Danny Rich". Liberal Judaism. 20 December 1996. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Richard Lainchbury. "Kingston Liberal Synagogue – About". Kingston Liberal Synagogue. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Limmud". Limmud. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "KIFF Panel School Visit Letter" (PDF). Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "History". LJY Netzer. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
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  12. ^ "The end of an era: Kingston Magistrates' Court closes (From Sutton Guardian)". Suttonguardian.co.uk. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "TRANSCRIPT OF EVIDENCE FROM RABBI DANNY RICH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF LIBERAL JUDAISM" (PDF). Commission on Assisted Dying. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Danny, Rabbi (18 May 2010). "Danny Rich". JNews. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "The World Union for Progressive Judaism | Our Newsletter". World Union for Progressive Judaism. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Taste of". Limmud. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  17. ^ "A taste of freedom in prison" (PDF). LJ Today. March–April 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (13th February 2013)". Parliament.uk. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Lecturers 2009". Tamar-europe.com. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "New Lib Jew CEO". Somethingjewish.co.uk. 2 December 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "Jewish East End of London - Miss Lily Montagu". Jewisheastend.com. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  22. ^ Stephen Bates (16 April 2003). "Liberal rabbis take a stand". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  23. ^ Jonathan Masters, Pi Computing (Cardiff) Ltd, www.picomputing.co.uk. "Welcome to Cardiff Reform Synagogue". Cardiff Reform Synagogue. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  24. ^ The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History - Google Books. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2013 – via Google Books. 
  25. ^ "Board of Governors". Leo Baeck College. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  26. ^ "The World Union for Progressive Judaism | Executive Board". World Union for Progressive Judaism. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  27. ^ "Professor Tariq Ramadan Adds Blessing to Muslim Scholars Call to Dialogue to World’s Jewish". ikhwanweb.com/. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "Interfaith Alliance UK - Scriptures in Dialogue". Interfaithalliance.org.uk. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "The Scriptural Reasoning Society – Scriptures in Dialogue تفسير القرآن والحوار דבר תורה ודיאלוג". Scripturalreasoning.org.uk. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Danny Rich: Documents revealed by the Vatican archive suggest that Pope Pius XII may have aided the rescue of thousands of Jews | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "Council of Christians and Jews: Presidents". Council of Christians and Jews. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Surrey Three Faiths Forum" (PDF). Christ Church News. April 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "Liberals join Council of Imams and Rabbis" (PDF). European Union for Progressive Judaism Newsletter. January 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Race, human rights and religion: the UK's Jewish free school decision". openDemocracy. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  35. ^ "Who Is A Jew; The Half-Jewish Network: Welcoming Adult Children & Grandchildren of Intermarriage". Half-jewish.net. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Sarah Lyall (7 July 2009). "Who Is a Jew? Court Ruling in Britain Raises Question". International New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "Jewish school loses places fight". BBC News. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "It's the right decision for the community". The Jewish Chronicle. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  39. ^ Gray, Stephen. "Religious representatives meet minister to support gay marriage". Pink News. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  40. ^ Press Association (29 November 2005). "Liberal Judaism creates gay wedding service | UK news". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  41. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee : MARRIAGE (SAME SEX COUPLES) BILL (12 February 2013)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  42. ^ "Rabbi defends speaking alongside anti-Zionist". The Jewish Chronicle. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  43. ^ Lucian J. Hudson (March–April 2012). "A model for building a better worlds". LJ Today. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  44. ^ Sam Jones and agencies. "Ephraim Mirvis has been chosen as the next chief rabbi". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  45. ^ Geoffrey Levy (27 September 2013). "Red Ed's pledge to bring back socialism is a homage to Marxist father Ralph Miliband". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  46. ^ Jamie Doward; Toby Helm (5 October 2013). "How the Mail blundered into a vicious battle with Labour". The Observer. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  47. ^ Joe Murphy (3 October 2013). "Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg backs Ed Miliband in Daily Mail fight". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  48. ^ "Daily Mail accused of antisemitic attack over Miliband story". The Jewish Chronicle. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  49. ^ "Miliband Mail Row: Clegg Joins Criticism". Sky News. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  50. ^ "A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England" (PDF). The Religious Education Council of England and Wales. October 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  51. ^ Rabbi Danny Rich (2013-11-25). "Why religion belongs in school". Haaretz. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  52. ^ "Britain’s Jewish Community Statistics 2012" (PDF). The Board of Deputies of British Jews. November 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  53. ^ 22 November 2013 (2013-11-22). "Rabbi Danny Rich: the ‘pickling’ of our Jewish faith is undermining its raison d’être". Jewishnews.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  54. ^ 14 November 2013 (2013-11-14). "Liberals claim Charedim are ‘pickling’ Judaism by hiding away from world". Jewishnews.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  55. ^ "Rabbi Danny Rich: Syrian Refugees Must Be Allowed into the UK". Liberaljudaism.org. 22 January 2014. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.