Julia Neuberger, Baroness Neuberger

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Rabbi Julia Babette Sarah Neuberger, Baroness Neuberger, DBE (born 27 February 1950; née Julia Schwab) is a member of the British House of Lords. She formerly took the Liberal Democrat whip, but resigned from the party and joined the Crossbenches in September 2011 upon becoming the full-time Senior Rabbi to the West London Synagogue.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Julia Schwab was born on 27 February 1950 to Walter and Liesel ("Alice") Schwab. She attended South Hampstead High School and Newnham College, Cambridge, obtaining her Rabbinic Diploma at Leo Baeck College, London, where she taught from 1977–97. She was Chancellor of the University of Ulster from 1994–2000.[2]

Her father was born in the UK to German Jewish immigrants who arrived before the First World War. Her mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany, arriving at age 22 in 1937. The Schwab Trust was set up in their name, to help support and educate young refugees and asylum seekers.[3]

Religious roles[edit]

Neuberger was Britain's second female rabbi after Jackie Tabick, and the first to have her own synagogue. She was rabbi of the South London Liberal Synagogue from 1977 to 1989 and is President of West Central Liberal Synagogue. She has been president of the Liberal Judaism since January 2007. On 1 February 2011, the West London Synagogue (a Movement for Reform Judaism synagogue) announced that she had been appointed as Senior Rabbi of the synagogue.

She also regularly appears on the Pause for Thought section on BBC Radio 2.[4]

Private healthcare activities[edit]

Neuberger is a board member of the private health insurers vhi in Ireland vhi ireland

Voluntary sector activity[edit]

Neuberger was Chair of Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust from 1992 to 1997, and Chief Executive of the King's Fund from 1997 to 2004. Who's Who lists a large number of voluntary and philanthropic roles she has undertaken. Her book, The Moral State We're In, a study of morality and public policy in modern Britain (ISBN 0-00-718167-1), was published in 2005. The title is an allusion to Will Hutton's 1997 book, The State We're In.

Parliamentary roles[edit]

Neuberger was appointed a DBE in the New Year Honours of 2003. In June 2004 she was created a life peer as Baroness Neuberger, of Primrose Hill in the London Borough of Camden. She served as a Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson from 2004 to 2007. On 29 June 2007, Baroness Neuberger was appointed by the incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the government's champion of volunteering.[5][6][7] She resigned from the Liberal Democrats upon becoming Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue.

Personal life and family relationships[edit]

Julia Schwab married Professor Anthony Neuberger.[8] They have two adult children, a son and a daughter. Anthony Neuberger is the son of Professor Albert Neuberger, and the brother of Professors Michael and James Neuberger, as well as Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Controversy over Northern Ireland schools[edit]

In 1997 she criticised education in Northern Ireland as sectarian at the opening of Loughview Integrated Primary School.[9] The Irish News claimed she had criticised Catholic schools as sectarian, leading to criticism from the Director of the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools.[10][11] However, she said that the report from the Irish News had given a misleading impression and that she had been quoted out of context:[12][13][14]

Charity involvement[edit]

In January 2013, Neuberger was appointed as Chair of an Independent Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway. The impartiality of the appointment has been questioned by some of the bereaved families, due to her previous endorsement of the pathway, which was written by Dr. John Ellershaw, Medical Director of the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool, in a 2003 BMJ article,[15] and her widely publicised support of the Marie Curie Institute.

Neuberger was elected Vice-President of the charity Attend[16] in 2006 and held the position until she retired in 2011.

Titles and honours[edit]

  • Miss Julia Schwab (1950–marriage)
  • Mrs Anthony Neuberger (marriage–2003)
  • Rabbi Julia Neuberger (1977–2003)
  • Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger DBE (2003–2004)
  • Rabbi The Rt Hon The Baroness Neuberger DBE (2004–)


  • The Story of Judaism (for children), 1986, 2nd edn 1988.
  • Days of Decision (Edited four in series), 1987.
  • Caring for Dying Patients of Different Faiths, 1987, 3rd edn 2004 (edited, with John A. White).
  • A Necessary End, 1991.
  • Whatever’s Happening to Women?, 1991.
  • Ethics and Healthcare: the role of Research Ethics Committees in the UK, 1992.
  • The Things That Matter (anthology of women’s spiritual poetry, Edited by JN), 1993.
  • On Being Jewish, 1995.
  • Dying Well: a guide to enabling a better death, 1999, 2nd edn 2004.
  • Hidden Assets: values and decision-making in the NHS today, (ed with Bill New), 2002.
  • The Moral State We’re In, 2005.
  • Report on Volunteering, March 2008.


External links[edit]