Yom Shabbat, 28 Kislev 5775
Hanukkah Saturday, 20 December 2014
What is Liberal Judaism?

Affirmation 23:

Judaism has never stood still.  It has always moved forward, sometimes slowly, sometimes faster. Its history is a history of continuity and change.

Liberal Judaism affirms the dynamic, developing character of our Jewish religious tradition.

 

Questing and questioning, Liberal Judaism is an authentic and modern form of Judaism, rooted in a deep and meaningful engagement with Jewish texts, values, culture and history. We are a movement with a sense of purpose, engaged in community life, study, spirituality and social action. We believe in personal freedom and responsibility and the shared and collective bonds that unite us as Jewish people and members of humanity. We actively choose to live out our  Judaism as part of a community, and welcome those who grew up as Jewish and those who, later in life, have become accepted into Judaism. We are inclusive and egalitarian, giving equal status within Judaism to those traditionally excluded. We help all our members to embark on their personal Jewish journeys. We want Judaism to be a positive, joyous and active part of our members' lives, and for them to use it to enrich their relationships with those around them.

 

We are inspired by the Prophets, who combined a sincere commitment to Judaism with a constant regard and concern for the universal values that should guide all ethical behaviour. We believe that tikkun olam (repair of the world) is a fundamental mission for us as Liberal Jews and humanity as a whole. This tikkun should happen on four levels: the personal/inter-personal, the communal, the Jewish and global. Walking In the footsteps of the Prophets, Liberal Jews can be constructive irritants to the mainstream, and/or influence the mainstream with integrity and impact. We take tough, sometimes unpopular, stances on issues of Jewish concern, striving at all times to  behave with honesty, respect and empathy. 

 

We are welcoming, open and forward-looking. We engage with society as we find it, and lead from the front. We play an active role in building collaboration across the Jewish community and with other faiths and causes.
Effective collaboration is about finding common ground and embracing,  accepting or working through differences. Working together, we can  produce a result which no one person or organization could have achieved alone. Not only do we maintain a solid presence in all of British Jewry's major forums - for instance the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council - but we also face outwards, contributing to society, working aongside other faiths to foster peace. As members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (and European Union of Progressive Judaism) we are part of the worldwide Jewish majority of non-Orthodox Jews and are committed to the future of Progressive Judaism both in the UK and across the world.

 

Rabbi John D Rayner z"l once said that it is better to be few and right than many and wrong. As a national movement, we plan to keep growing, attract new members and support. We develop communities who wish to join us, reach people that other Jewish communities cannot or do not, and engage with all who are open, sincere and progressive in their Judaism.
The synagogue is at the heart of the community. We run more activities for more people in more places and in a greater variety of formats than ever before. We are also finding other models of communal engagement, investing in what has potential and being open to what our members want from us, rather than imposing "one size fits all" structures onto them. 
We put special value on Jewish learning, appreciating different perspectives and ways of relating to Judaism, whether it is through study, prayer, worship and other forms of social, cultural and communal activity. Our synagogues are places for groups of our members to engage with their Judaism, be religiously served and fulfilled and enjoy each other's company.

 

We affirm a love for the Land of Israel and a strong commitment to the State of Israel. We pray for her people, care about her security and wish to enact the vision of her founders of a Jewish state for all its inhabitants, at peace with its neighbours, democratic and prosperous. We promote a two-state solution, and oppose all boycotts. We also strive to emphasise the value of, and to nurture, the unique symbiosis between Israel and the Diaspora. We combine this vision of Israel with strong support for religious pluralism within the State, and partner with selected organisations within Israel to advance the cause of Progressive Judaism inside Israel and the rights of all Israelis, including those of other faiths and none.
Liberal Judaism arose in the 19th century and throughout the 20th and will further evolve in the 21st century. We have stayed true to the aims of our founders, whilst blossoming into a national movement of dozens of synagogue communities and many thousands of members. We have been an active participant in all of the key intellectual, political and religious discussions of British Jewry over the last one hundred years, and our public profile has never been greater. 

 

We are proud to be liberal and proud to be Jewish, and will always engage with others on shared values and interests, whether it be in tackling climate change and other risks to the environment, poverty, inequality and other forms of injustice.
Recalling the Holocaust and his experience in concentration camps, Viktor Frankl z"l once said that between stimulus and response is the space of true freedom. It is up to us as Liberal Jews to make positive choices that will make the world a better place, whilst also listening and relating to others on their own terms. 
It is through such dynamic interaction that we discover more about others and more about ourselves, where we can be most relevant and make a lasting  contribution.

 

As part of refreshing our communications in the run-up to the 2012 Liberal Judaism Biennial, the Strategic Communications Group, which reports to the LJ Board of National Officers, has put out this narrative to consultation. Any comments can be sent to Lucian J. Hudson, Chairman of Liberal Judaism: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

A fascinating archive of documentary material on the history of our movement is available for consultation. Please contact Liberal Judaism’s Archivist, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to make a viewing appointment.