1902 – Foundation of Liberal Judaism in the form of weekly prayer groups in London set up by Lily Montagu and others. The idea was to have services including more English and men and women taking an equal part.
1947 – Walter Woyda, set up an organization which aimed to bring together the many youth groups under an official ULPS (Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues) umbrella. Walter became the first chairman of the newly formed FLPJYG (Federation of Liberal and Progressive Jewish Youth Groups). Conferences with outstanding guest speakers were held, the first in 1949 on “Judaism and Citizenship”, social and cultural functions abounded and many joint activities were held with the Reform Movement’s YASGB (Youth Association of Synagogues of Great Britain).
1960s-1970s – With the voluntary help of rabbis, rabbinic students and lay members, nearly all of whom were graduates of FLPJYG, a number of weekends and other activities were centrally arranged. These culminated in a major conference on youth held in June 1972. This attracted over 100 participants and was instrumental in re-establishing a vibrant and effective Youth Movement. Meanwhile Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, together with his wife, Sharon, was, through the annual residential Kadimah Holiday School, developing a new generation of committed ULPS youth. ULPSNYC, (originally ULPS National Youth Committee, later ULPS Network of Youth Clubs) was born and a full programme of youth weekends, leadership training, creative services and a regular magazine was implemented. For those over 15, a summer activity “Senior Kadimah” was instigated and run by Rabbi Clifford Cohen, first in Amsterdam, and later as an Outward Bound venture in Derbyshire.
1980s-1990s – At its annual conference in 1988, the ULPSNYC leadership made a proposal to become a Zionist Youth Movement, and in particular to affiliate to Netzer Olami (the international Progressive Zionist Youth Movement). But the ULPS adult leadership was not convinced of the desirability of such a step, fearing that commitment to Liberal Judaism might be overshadowed by commitment to Zionism. Tensions over this issue led a few of ULPSNYC’s young leaders to leave. Finally, in May 1991, there was a complete restructuring of the Youth Department and a new management scheme provided for two youth workers and a youth administrator under the overall control of Rabbi Danny Rich.
1993 – after several years of negotiations and discussions, ULPSNYC formally affiliated to Netzer Olami and became ULPSNYC-Netzer. Now structured as a classical Zionist Youth Movement, its Mazkir (General Secretary) each year automatically fills one of the youth worker posts.
2002 – ULPSNYC-Netzer made a revolutionary decision to change the way its summer camp Kadimah was run. Previously, overall responsibility for the running of the camp had fallen to adults from the ULPS and the director of Kadimah (Rabbi Danny Rich). But in 2002, ULPSNYC-Netzer decided to run its camps itself, so that the youth movement would truly be run for the youth, by the youth.
2004 – ULPSNYC-Netzer is forced to change its name to something different due to the founding of “Liberal Judaism” (replacing the former Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues). JLY (Jewish Liberal Youth) and PJY (Progressive Jewish Youth) were considered, but members of ULPSNYC-Netzer decided upon “LJY-Netzer” as the new name – standing for Liberal Jewish Youth.
2004 Onwards- LJY-Netzer has continued to grow and evolve over the years giving more power to the younger members through events such as Kinus, holding larger and better attended leadership seminars and by employing four full time movement workers. Through an ideological mission statement LJY-Netzer affirms and acts upon its commitment to Liberal Judaism, Reform Zionism, Tikkun Olum and youth empowerment, striving to act as a force for good within the Jewish and wider communities.
Who knows what the future will bring……..