NLS is one of some 35 communities and synagogues who hold full membership of Liberal Judaism in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. There are also as a number of new 'developing' communities across the UK and one associated member community in Amsterdam. Liberal Judaism, as the name suggests, is a progressive form of Judaism that aims to bring Judaism and modernity together.
To use the movement's own words:
Liberal Judaism is the growing edge of Judaism. It reverences Jewish tradition, and seeks to preserve all that is good in the Judaism of the past. But it lives in the present. . . It is the Judaism of the past in process of becoming the Judaism of the future.
Liberal Jews apply Judaism's religious and cultural tradition in the framework of modern thinking and morality. They seek to live according to the prophetic ideal - to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God.
The movement has a strong intellectual tradition, and believes that Jewish texts should be reinterpreted in the light of modern scholarship and Jewish laws reassessed by their practical suitability to contemporary conditions.
So, for example, there is no obligation to obey Jewish dietary laws, but one can do so if it helps one's internal feeling of 'Jewishness' to do so.
This is typical of the Liberal belief that each individual should be encouraged to make their own decisions within the Jewish framework (and taking a questioning attitude to that framework), as opposed to the strict obedience to law that characterises Orthodoxy.
Liberal Judaism is non-authoritarian and the congregations that make up the movement are self-governing. In Britain, it is organised by an association of 35 autonomous synagogues, comprising what was formerly known as 'The Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues' and now simply 'Liberal Judaism'.
The organisation is part of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which estimated their membership to be around 1.7 million in 2009 and is the largest grouping of Jews in the world.
Liberal rabbis are trained at the Leo Baeck College - Centre for Jewish Education, the main rabbinic seminary for progressive Rabbis.