A survey carried out in 2001 by the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism (the Verbond), highlighted the need over the coming decades for new Rabbis, shelichay tzibbur (service leaders), teachers and and knowledgable lay people to provide leadership to our Jewish congregations and organisations.

The pressure under which the Rabbis at that time had to work is evident from what is just a selection taken from the wide range of their activities (the situation in 2005):
  • Rabbi Ten Brink was the Rabbi of LJG Amsterdam, LJG Flevoland and LJG Gelderland and the Convener of the Beth Din.
  • Rabbi Herman z.l., was then already several years retired, but had again become active as Rabbi of LJG Brabant.
  • Rabbi Soetendorp was still to some extent active in the LJG the Hague and responsible for LJG Utrecht, in addition to his many international commitments. His retirement in March 2008 was then already known.
  • Rabbi Lilienthal, Emeritus Rabbi of LJG Amsterdam, had taken early retirement to set up the Levisson institute. He had been appointed Dean of the Levisson Institute as of 1 January 2004. He was at that time also responsible for the LJG Rotterdam, LJG Twente and the International Jewish Center in Brussels, chair of the European Beth Din and the Dutch prayer book committee.
  • Rabbi Bar Ephraim, who was at the time the Rabbi of the LJG (Liberal Jewish congregation) in the Hague and part time prison chaplain, has since become the Rabbi of the JLG in Zürich, Switzerland.

The Union Board noted with satisfaction that the Liberal Jewish congregations continue grow in number and to expand their activities. The thirst for more and deeper Jewish knowledge and finding ways of living Jewishly  continues to grow, and that this requires action. The need to strengthen both the rabbinical leadership and the knowledge base among the people in the non-rabbinic leadership.

The situation was such that Rabbinc training could only be done abroad. However, several highly motivated individuals wishing to be trained, found , for various, all valid, reasons that they would not be able to spend a five year long period of studying abroad. 

These were two of the main reasons why, on 23 August 2002 the Robert A. Levisson Foundation was established by the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism.  This foundation in turn established the Levisson Institute, and the Board iof the Foundation is also the Board of the Institute.

The Institute was named for the great postwar Dutch Liberal Jewish leader Robert A. (Bob) Levisson z.l. from The Hague, who died late in 2001, a short time before the establlishment of Foundation.