By Rabbi Laurie Rice
The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), established in London in 1926, is the international network of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements, serving 1.2 million members worldwide in more than 1,250 congregations in over 50 countries.
The Ark Synagogue in London is one of those congregations. Under the leadership of Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, the Ark synagogue is one of greater London's premier congregations. Rabbi Goldstein and the Rabbis Rice met and became fast friends as students in seminary in the late 90's. When the World Union sought to connect their member congregations with synagogue communities in the United States, Rabbi Flip Rice jumped on the opportunity to partner with an old friend. “The dream of bringing our two communities was long in the making,” says Rabbi Flip, ‘Rabbi Goldstein is an accomplished rabbi whose values are consistent with Micah’s progressive approach to Judaism. It was the treat to hear from him and we look forward to building on this partnership in the hopes that one day he and his wife Tammy will travel to Nashville in person.”
On a Shabbat in May, Rabbi Goldstein participated virtually in Micah's services, preaching and sharing his wisdom. Rabbi Flip did the same with Ark services that same Shabbat. Members on both sides of the pond appreciated the opportunity to share their clergy and experience a different style of worship and leadership. The two congregations hope to expand upon that partnership in a post-COVID world, with Rabbi Goldstein spending some length of time as Micah's visiting rabbi and the Rabbis Rice doing the same at the Ark Synagogue in the London suburbs. Rabbi Goldstein says he is very much looking forward to that time, “A meeting of old friends is always a treat. What was also brilliant about this initiative was the congregants from Micah who came to The Ark and vice versa, even in the wee hours of the morning UK time. It is not just our family who wish to visit Nashville but many of our congregants; and visit Nashville we will do and look forward to seeing y'all!”
Dates are not yet confirmed, but we welcome all to view the exchange on the Micah website and to visit the WUPJ and Ark Synagogue websites to learn more.