This article describes the work of the Youth Section of the WUPJ (the World Union for Progressive Judaism) in Europe soon after the Second World War and the establishment of the State of Israel, with especial attention to the influence of Rabbi Lionel Blue. It covers tensions between generations over how to ‘teach’ Judaism; the astonishing numbers of rabbinical students recruited; ways we ‘encountered’ the Bible; the first post-war youth conference in Germany; early meetings with young Jews from Eastern Europe; first encounters with Muslims; and particularly the Six-Day War. The changes this brought about through Netzer and the shift in focus towards a more Israel-centred ideology are described. Finally, the conclusion is drawn that only ongoing messianic or prophetic ideals keep Judaism alive.
Jeffrey Newman is Emeritus Rabbi of Finchley Reform Synagogue and continues to work with organizations dealing with the global situation in which we all find ourselves and to which we all contribute.