Julia Neuberger

Rabbi Julia Babette Sarah Neuberger, Baroness Neuberger, DBE (née Schwab; born 27 February 1950) is a member of the British House of Lords. She formerly took the Liberal Democrat whip, but resigned from the party and joined the Crossbenches in September 2011 upon becoming the full-time Senior Rabbi to the West London Synagogue.[1]

Early life and education

Julia Schwab was born on 27 February 1950 to Walter and Liesel ("Alice") Schwab. She attended South Hampstead High School and Newnham College, Cambridge, obtaining her Rabbinic Diploma at Leo Baeck College, London, where she taught from 1977–97. She was Chancellor of the University of Ulster from 1994–2000.[2]

Her father was born in the UK to German Jewish immigrants who arrived before the First World War. Her mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany, arriving at age 22 in 1937. The Schwab Trust was set up in their name, to help support and educate young refugees and asylum seekers.[3]

Religious roles

Neuberger was Britain's second female rabbi after Jackie Tabick, and the first to have her own synagogue. She was rabbi of the South London Liberal Synagogue from 1977 to 1989 and is President of West Central Liberal Synagogue. She has been president of the Liberal Judaism since January 2007. On 1 February 2011, the West London Synagogue (a Movement for Reform Judaism synagogue) announced that she had been appointed as Senior Rabbi of the synagogue.

She also regularly appears on the Pause for Thought section on BBC Radio 2.[4]

Voluntary sector activity

Neuberger was Chair of Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust from 1992 to 1997, and Chief Executive of the King's Fund from 1997 to 2004. Who's Who lists a large number of voluntary and philanthropic roles she has undertaken. Her book, The Moral State We're In, a study of morality and public policy in modern Britain (ISBN 0-00-718167-1), was published in 2005. The title is an allusion to Will Hutton's 1997 book, The State We're In.

Political and parliamentary roles

Neuberger was the Social Democratic Party candidate for Tooting in the 1983 general election, coming third with 8,317 votes (18.1%).

She was appointed a DBE in the New Year Honours of 2003. In June 2004 she was created a life peer as Baroness Neuberger, of Primrose Hill in the London Borough of Camden. She served as a Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson from 2004 to 2007. On 29 June 2007, Baroness Neuberger was appointed by the incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the government's champion of volunteering.[5][6][7] She resigned from the Liberal Democrats upon becoming Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue.

Personal life and family relationships

Julia Schwab married Professor Anthony Neuberger.[8] They have two adult children, a son and a daughter. Anthony Neuberger is the son of Professor Albert Neuberger, and the brother of Professors Michael and James Neuberger, as well as Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Controversy over Northern Ireland schools

In 1997 she criticised education in Northern Ireland as sectarian at the opening of Loughview Integrated Primary School.[9] The Irish News claimed she had criticised Catholic schools as sectarian, leading to criticism from the Director of the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools.[10][11] However, she said that the report from the Irish News had given a misleading impression and that she had been quoted out of context:[12][13][14]

In fact, I think in what I actually said at the opening I didn't mention Catholic schools. I think I actually mentioned Protestant, Muslim and Jewish but then I was interviewed afterwards and I certainly said to the reporter that what I said applied just as much to Catholic schools as to Protestant or Jewish or Muslim or whatever.
Rabbi Julia Neuberger Irish News – 22 September 1997

Charity involvement

In January 2013, Neuberger was appointed chair of an Independent Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient. The impartiality of the appointment was questioned by some of the bereaved families, due to her previous endorsement of the pathway, which was written by Dr John Ellershaw, medical director of the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool, in a 2003 BMJ article,[15] and her widely publicised support of the Marie Curie Institute. The results of the review were published in July 2013;[16] accepting the review's recommendations, the government advised that NHS hospitals should phase out the use of the LCP.

Neuberger was elected vice-president of Attend, a charity that supports and expands the roles volunteers play in creating healthy communities, in 2006[17] and held the position until she retired in 2011.

Neuberger was appointed to the board of Irish health insurers Vhi Healthcare for a five-year period from 2005 by Mary Harney, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.[18]

Titles and honours



External links

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