'He Did Bestride Our Narrow World Like a Colossus'

in European Judaism

The Liberal movement that John Rayner joined in the mid-1950s and speedily came to dominate was small, inward-looking, aimlessly treading water and intellectually undistinguished. But my conviction is that whether in its sister movement in the U.S.A., the two million strong Union of American Hebrew Congregations or in the glory days of nineteenth- century German Reform Judaism, John's powerful intellect, wide Jewish knowledge, conviction of principle, clarity of thought and concision of expression would have brought him to the forefront. When the history of Progressive Judaism comes to be written in a hundred years time, his name will be mentioned in the same breath as luminaries like Abraham Geiger, Kaufmann Kohler, Isaac Mayer Wise, Leo Baeck and Solomon Freehof. He was one of the great ones for his and future generations.