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About New Jewish Thought

Our vision


New Jewish Thought is a group of British Jews from across the communal spectrum, who have come together to pursue the following vision:

  • New Jewish Thought seeks to foster dialogue and respectful connection between Jews with different opinions, from different streams of Jewishness, from different backgrounds.
  • New Jewish Thought seeks to highlight issues that are not extensively discussed within the Jewish community.

New Jewish Thought:

  • will be a flexible and open organisation. It will seek to create new models of communal belonging and engagement.
  • will be centred on its web presence but not confined to it. It will commission new essays, dialogues and opinion pieces from across the Jewish communal spectrum.
  • will put on seminars, dialogue groups, lectures and conferences.
  • will aim to work in partnership with other organisations wherever possible.

Our history


New Jewish Thought was born out of discussions between Daniel Jonas and Keith Kahn-Harris and a small group of others. We were initially called the Centre for New Jewish Thought. In 2006 we set up a blog and published a statement of intent which we have published below.

Also in 2006, the Jewish Chronicle published an interview with Keith Kahn-Harris and Daniel Jonas. The JC has given us permission to post the article here
(Also available as a pdf document)

Who are we?

First published 2006

New Jewish Thought is a group of British Jews from across the communal spectrum, who have come together to form an independent centre to promote new thinking and dialogue within the British Jewish community

We have been motivated to come together as a response to our ongoing frustration with the quality and nature of debate in our community. All too often, we believe, the internal dialogue of British Jewry consists of the reiteration of fixed positions by various interest groups. As a consequence of this, it has become common to avoid debate between streams of Judaism, either retreating into antagonism or into an exaggerated (and often false) respect.

We believe that a fundamental part of the strength and vitality of Judaism has always come from its diversity. But whilst we seek to cultivate this diversity, we reject unthinking, relativistic models that would restrict different schools of thought to mutually uncommunicative ghettoes.

By contrast, we believe passionately in the value of dialogue and non-hostile confrontation between Jewish points of view. We also believe that such discussion and debate requires vulnerability, openness – and the willingness to revise one’s opinions – from those who engage in it. We seek to cultivate such open-ended discussion with the aim of provoking the British Jewish community to engage with the full complexities of Judaism today. We are committed to engaging with the full range of Jewish possibilities – ethnic, religious and cultural.

We aim to provide ‘conceptual leadership’ that will influence new policies and new directions in British Jewry. Whilst the core of our concern is British Jewry, we engage with it on many levels: as citizens of the UK, as part of the Jewish world, as part of the diaspora, as people interested in Israel and the Middle East, as an ethno-religious group interested in positive contact with other such groups and as individuals with specific interests and skills – consulting, academic, innovation, technological, religious texts, philosophy, arts and culture.

We will seek to create new metaphors and symbols for the renewal of Jewish life. We will search for new paradigms and new models of being Jewish from communities, industries, religions and countries.

We seek to reach out to everyone who finds Judaism most valuable and rewarding when it is difficult and challenging. We seek to provoke people in different sections of the community to leave their comfort zones and question their fundamental assumptions.

We seek to include people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse skills in our discussions – academics, professionals, artists and interested lay individuals. We are also commited to including non-Jews in debates on the nature and future of the Jewish people.

About our Founders

About Daniel Jonas Daniel Jonas

Daniel is a management consultant by profession, specialising in innovation, he has an MSc in business systems analysis and design and an MBA focused in technology, strategy, innovation and knowledge. He is the founder and bandleader of the Sephardic flamenco group Los Desterrados. He is married and lives in London.

Areas of interest:

  • Interfaith dialogue
  • The music of the Sephardim and the 'Eidoth ha-Mizrah
  • Sephardic/'Eidoth ha-Mizrah cultural literacy
  • Jewish mysticism and theology
  • Liturgy and prayer
  • The present and future of Anglo-Jewry
  • Judaism and business
About Keith Kahn Harris Keith Kahn Harris

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist specialising in two very different areas of expertise:

1. contemporary Jewish identity and culture and
2. contemporary music scenes and in particular the global extreme metal scene.

His engagement with Judaism is maintained by a ‘davkanik’ refusal to see his less coventional interests — extreme metal music, transgressive art, and leftist politics — as incompatible with membership in the mainstream British Jewish community. Keith works as an associate lecturer at the Open University, and as a freelance research consultant in the Jewish community. From 2001-2 he was a ‘Jerusalem Fellow’ at the Mandel School in Jersualem and he has held visiting fellowships and lectureships at universities in Australia, Finland and Sweden. Keith co-authored Beyond Belonging: The Jewish Identities of Moderately Engaged British Jews (with Steven M. Cohen, Profile Books, 2004), co-edited After Subculture (with Andy Bennett, Palgrave, 2004) and edited New Voices in Jewish Thought: Volume 2 (Limmud publications 1999). His book Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge will be published by Berg in December 2006.

A more extensive publications list is available on his website at http://www.kahn-harris.org . Keith also writes a blog, Metal Jew (http://kkahnharris.typepad.com/).



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