Founders & Pioneers
The Hon. Lily Montagu founded the Liberal Jewish Movement in Britain with Claude Montefiore and Israel Mattuck in 1902 – together they were known as the three M’s. The Jewish Religious Union, as it was initially called, was later renamed the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues and is now known as Liberal Judaism. The first Liberal Jewish synagogue in Britain was opened in 1911 and the first Liberal Rabbi, Israel Mattuck, was appointed in 1912. Liberal rabbis are trained at the Leo Baeck College Centre for Jewish Education, the main rabbinic seminary for progressive rabbis. Over the years Liberal Judaism has benefitted from the intellect, dedication and charisma of a number of leading rabbis and community leaders and members. In particular many rabbis are remembered with great fondness for the influence they had on individuals. Together they are part of Lily’s Legacy and Liberal Judaism’s rich heritage.
In this section, Liberal Jews reflect on founders, pioneers and community leaders that have helped shape this radical and dynamic movement.
“Well, there’s the founders were Montefiore, Montagu and Mattuck. The fourth is Marjorie Moos, who came into the movement as a very young woman, I think she was about eighteen. Very enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and she became the teacher par excellence. And she taught at South Hampstead School. During the war she used to go round all the evacuated children and she used to teach in Berkhamsted and various other places, she was a very prolific teacher and she really kept a lot of the young people together. But, you know, we always think of our founders as the three Ms and there’s no doubt. And Lily Montagu was the driving force initially and it all started with her article in 1899 in the Quarterly Review. But she had to have support for that, and nobody would’ve taken any notice of a young woman. But Montefiore supported her.“
This episode explores the theme founders and pioneers of Liberal Judaism
This series of podcasts and the exhibition of which it is part honours the contribution of Lily Montagu to the foundation of Liberal Judaism.
Lily founded the movement with Claude Montefiore and Israel Mattuck – together they were known as the three M’s. In this episode participants pay tribute to the three M’s as well as other pioneers and influential figures. For over a century Liberal Jews have been indebted to the dedication of a number of Liberal rabbis and lay leaders. Some of them are remembered and honoured in this episode.
You can read a transcript of the podcast HERE
To download or share all the podcasts in this series go to lilyslegacy.transistor.fm/subscribe
Lily, My Father and Me
Lily Montagu is, in a sense, my spiritual grandmother. She inspired, taught and supported my father and he did the same for me. In some ways I became the rabbi I am because of her.
Refugee Voices Film
Dr Bea Lewkowicz, conducted the interview with Rabbi Jacobi in May 2016, four years ago. She remembers it very clearly, as Rabbi Jacobi’s humility and wisdom made a great impression on her
“My sister Marian and I, for we are one, have been allowed to live to see the fulfilment of our dearest wish. Ten years earlier, in November 1944, the beloved leader of our Liberal Movement, Dr Mattuck, held a service in which he inducted me with several others as a lay Minister, and of all the red letter days in my long life, I think that was the brightest, for it gave me my opportunity for deeper spiritual service. “
(In memory of Lily H. Montagu, Collected by Eric Conrad, 1967, p. 15)