Rabbi Dr. Werner van der Zyl - Leo Baeck College
While acknowledging the contribution of others, such as Leonard Montefiore, without whose financial contribution the founding of the college would have been impossible, as well as the Reform Movement in general, the late Ellen Littman, a great friend and respected colleague of van der Zyl, had this to say in the book "Reform Judaism":
The College is Dr. van der Zyl's child. Anglo-Jewry and especially the two movements of Progressive Judaism, owe the existence of the Leo Baeck College to his immense foresight, to his perseverance and dedication. To the establishment of the College and its development during its first ten years he has given his deepest thoughts, his creative ability and above all, the all-embracing love a father has for his child. His task was never simple; it has not always been easy to unify the many different trends, in lecturers and students alike, to one great strength that made spiritual life possible and fruitful. But deep human understanding and belief in personal freedom have helped him bind us all together in the readiness to share responsibility with him. He put before us this creative attempt to build a theological College in our time and pave the way for future generations.
The book was dedicated to Rabbi Dr. van der Zyl on the occasion of his seventieth birthday and is a collection of essays on Reform Judaism, almost all of them written by his colleagues and pupils. It is edited by Rabbi Dow Marmur.
After Rabbi van der Zyl's death, an annual Memorial Lecture was inaugurated to commemorate his achievement. The 2013 lecture was given by Professor Marc Epstein of Vassar College. He is seen here (right) with Nikki at the NW Reform Synagogue venue in Alyth Gardens, North London.
The current Principal of Leo Baeck College is Rabbi Deborah Kahn-Harris, pictured left with Alasdair Nisbet, former Chairman of the College and Nikki.
Photo bottom right shows Nikki with rabbis Deborah Kahn-Harris, Rachel Adler, Josh Levy and Maurice Michaels, June 2014.
The World of Nikki van der Zyl