My Jewish journey began (and seemingly ended) at Kenton United Synagogue where, as a five-year-old, I wept for the entire morning that my father delivered me to the cheder (religion school) for the first time. Despite this, I endured a further 8 years of Sunday mornings plus two weekdays after school and Saturday mornings (when I either travelled the 3.5-mile journey alone by bus, or went with my father by car, which he parked around the corner from the synagogue). My involvement with that synagogue and Orthodox Judaism pretty much ended after my bar-mitzvah ceremony in 1970, although I did begrudgingly attend High Holyday services with my father for a few years after that until I went to university at the age of 18. (The story of my final observance of the Jewish New Year with my father can be found by clicking this image of me the day after my bar-mitzvah ceremony on the left).

My secular education was pretty unspectacular. I was unfortunate enough to gain a free place at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School in Elstree at the age of 11, and spent a miserable seven years there. For reasons that no one could understand, I was particularly good at German (perhaps some genetic connection with Yiddish?) so I ended up studying that at the University of Southampton where I blagged my way to a 2:1 honours degree. I then did a one year Post Graduate Certificate of Education at Wall Hall College in Hertfordshire after which I spent five years teaching in primary schools in that same area.

It was my love of teaching that brought me back to Judaism. In 1978 I worked as a supervisor at Kadimah Holiday School, a two week residential camp organised by Liberal Judaism (then known as the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues – ULPS). I loved the activities and the unique community atmosphere that we created there – but the religious stuff still left me cold. It was only once I became more involved in the educational programming – which was an integral part of the experience – that I began to realise that there was so much more to Judaism than had been taught and demonstrated to me as a child. It was when we covered the biblical prophets as a theme in 1984 that my eyes were fully opened and just a year later, I had given up teaching and was embarking on a five year course at the Leo Baeck College to become a rabbi. (The full details of that journey can be found in my book ‘Why Am I Here?’ which is in the publications section of this website).

After graduating I served the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue from 1990-1994 and, after taking a year out to return to teaching, was employed by the Glasgow New Synagogue from 1995-2003. This synagogue was affiliated to the Reform movement, which made for some interesting challenges for me and the congregation – though of course all Reform and Liberal communities are now in the process of merging into a single Progressive Judaism movement. After my eight years in Scotland, I returned to my roots at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree. It really was a homecoming: from its upstairs rooms I could just see the woods I used to smoke my cigarettes in during my misspent schooldays! 

I worked for this Liberal synagogue until 2021 after which I planned to emigrate to Camarillo in California to be with my son and his family. Unfortunately this adventure lasted for precisely seven weeks before I almost accidentally ended up back in Glasgow. My former congregation has changed its name to Glasgow Reform Synagogue and has shrunk to less than half the size it was when I left it in 2003. So I work part-time for this community and am focusing more on my broadcasting and writing work. I am a lifelong supporter of Watford FC but as I currently live in the West End of Glasgow with my partner and her son, my allegiance is now also with Partick Thistle – same colours!.