The Liberal Judaism Chair’s Awards recognise those who are doing wonderful work to support the values and principles of our movement. They are presented every two years at the Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend.
Previous Chair’s Awards winners are
Betty and Peter Benscher for their incredible work for Woodford Liberal Synagogue for more than half a century. Between them, they acted as marriage secretaries for a period of 50 years, covering in excess of 350 weddings. In 2010, they were unanimously acclaimed as the joint life presidents of Woodford. Sadly Betty died in July shortly after being presented with the award by son Simon, the chair of Liberal Judaism.
Judi and Steve Herman of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue who were said by the judges to embody all the ethics, principles and dedication that Liberal Judaism represents. Judi and Steve have made a huge contribution to their synagogue, and the national movement, over a number of decades.
Jane Greenfield, who has served on almost every Southgate Progressive Synagogue committee in 36 years of membership, as well as the Friends of Progressive Judaism in Israel and Europe, the Leo Baeck Education Centre in Haifa and the Liberal Judaism Biennial organising committee.
Rita Adler, of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, who was chosen for her life-changing work on the synagogue’s asylum seeker drop-in which requires a huge amount of organisation of volunteers to support the growing numbers of asylum seekers who attend and Singing for the Mind, established for dementia/memory problem sufferers and their carers.
Frank Maxwell, president of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, who was said to roll up his sleeves, literally and metaphorically, whatever the need, serving his community in various capacities and playing an instrumental role in the planning of its current building.
Amanda McFeeters, the inspirational, dedicated and hard-working chair of South Bucks Jewish Community, who provides everything from support for the rabbi to a portable Ark for services to a role model for the community’s children.
Tom Francies, who has been an inspiring, incredibly hard-working and universally-beloved leader of Liberal Judaism’s youth movement LJY-Netzer for the last three years bringing a unique and infectious combination of professionalism, commitment and empathy to his role as a movement worker.
Rosita Rosenberg, a former chief executive of Liberal Judaism, was presented with a lifetime achievement award, acknowledging her insightful mind and deep devotion to Liberal Judaism.
Loretta Cohn of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue is one of the most indefatigable Liberal Jews, Loretta Cohn, who leads services in the rabbiu2019s absence. She instituted the runaway success of chavurah-style Pesach Seders. She leads inspiring visits of local school groups. She continually deepens her knowledge of Judaism by taking courses at Leo Baeck College, as well as elsewhere.
Pearl Philips from Southgate Progressive Synagogue has done so much in almost 60 years of membership that I almost do not know where to start. Organising mitzvot for High Holy Days services, chavurah suppers, choir singing, cross-communal events and numerous committee roles. Above all, she has always stood out for her courage in standing up for Liberal Jewish values.
Dr Alex Keller of Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation has served his community for four decades. A distinguished university lecturer, he brought his educational skills to the youngest of his community, captivating spellbound cheder pupils. He has served as chairman, bulletin editor, cheder headmaster, lay leader and president, as well as representing his community on the local Council of Faiths and Council of Christians & Jews.
Peter and Mavis Hyams from Bristol & West Progressive Jewish Community are a dynamic couple who, through chutzpah and hard work, founded a thriving congregation. They even took to looking through the local phone directory to find Jewish-sounding names in order to recruit new members. That was over 50 years ago and they, and the community, are still going strong today.
Robin Moss from Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue, and a member of Liberal Judaismu2019s Board of National Officers, is a most popular choice. Youth worker, educator and intellectual, Robin is one of our most gifted and promising young leaders who always goes the extra mile in contributing to community life.
Suzanne King from Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community has been a veritable catalyst. Her list of credits includes working on Holocaust Memorial Day, a regional Shabbaton, a Jewish music extravaganza, Rainbow Jews, Shabbat services, local interfaith and cross-communal projects, social media management, Mitzvah Day blood drives, planting trees in Israel and, who could forget, Torah on the Beach.
Derrick Silk from Nottingham Liberal Synagogue is a dearly loved member of more than 40 years, Derrick has served as treasurer, chairman and president of his community, as well as chairing the national provincial committee.
Jenny Osorio is a founding member of Kingston Liberal Synagogue. One of the most important miztvot is that of visiting the sick and Jenny has set a stellar example in this area. As well as visits and helping those with mobility needs, she also coordinates transport for people in need on the peripheries of her community and organises tea parties for older members. In some months she will visit up to 15 individuals or, to put it another way, one person every two days.
Lionel and Sheila King Lassman, who have served their synagogue for longer than many of us have been alive. They’ve done everything from ferrying in a greenhorn American rabbi from the airport to feeding the shul’s fish. Together they have served as chair, gardener, president, book club convenor and many other important roles. Their attitude and contribution has been fundamental to the robust health and vitality of Finchley Progressive Synagogue.
Adam Francies is an example of one of the most important resources in the present and for the future that we have in Liberal Judaism: young lay leadership. In particular with his involvement with LJY-Netzer, he has used every opportunity to understand his own personal Jewish Identity and to correlate that with an understanding of the importance of Liberal Jewish values. Adam sowed the seeds of the renewed NPLS Youth Club and is able to take the ‘long view,’ identifying strategic resources required for extended development programming. His commitment to NPLS as ‘his Shul’ is flourishing as he continues to set precedent for his peers and future generations of young leaders.
Bryan Diamond of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue has contributed significantly to ensuring the history of Liberal Judaism (and the ULPS) has been recorded for future generations. In 1999 Bryan volunteered to be the first Archivist to the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues. He was faced with a significant challenge in sorting out papers dating back many years, but which were important records of the development of Liberal Judaism. In 2000 he wrote a first Archive entry for the ULPS Yearbook. In order to create a record of prayer books for the Movement, he searched out many versions of prayer books and had this bibliography published with a paper by John Rayner. Bryan has ensured that researchers from around the world have been enabled to review the development of Liberal Judaism, such as through papers deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives. Whilst officially retired , Bryan continues to act as Honorary Archivist to LJ and is an enthusiastic and energetic advocate for Liberal Judaism.
Brenda Dombey is a founder member of KLS and volunteer. She has willingly tackled the tricky task of administering the community’s membership ensuring she is always fair in her dealings with such a personal and at times difficult matter.
Gerald and Hilary Fox of Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue have been the secular face of our Community and indeed of Liberal Judaism for the last twenty years and more. Gerald has represented Liberal Judaism on the Board of Deputies which he attended assiduously. Gerald and Hilary have organised Holocaust Memorial Day in the town of Luton for years – an event to which the whole Establishment of the town and the County come to: the Mayor, the Police, the schools, the many faiths including the Orthodox Jewish Community. Gerald and Hilary rehearse the diverse participatory groups for weeks in advance.
Gillian Raab has been a central figure in Sukkat Shalom Edinburgh from its very start. She has given her time without reservation, beginning as treasurer, then as membership secretary, and for the last three years as Chairman. This period has been extremely demanding on her time and energy, but she has met these demands with cheerfulness and determination, and the results are shown in the continued growth and good health of our community. ELJC would not be the thriving community it is without her modest presence and tireless work.
Nick Silk has been the Religious Affairs co-ordinator for Sukkat Shalom Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community since the community began. He has been the mainstay of the lay service leadership all along he is an essential resource and encouragement. A wandering community like Edinburgh’s needs an efficient manager of resources, to make sure that everything is at the right place and at the right time, and Nick is quietly perfect in this very laborious role. On top of his formal roles, his quiet wisdom has won him universal respect in the community and given him natural authority and an indispensable role in our collective leadership. Itu2019s impossible to imagine how Sukkat Shalom could have flourished as it has without him.
Rabbi Pete Tobias often goes above and beyond his rabbinic duties at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree. He completed three successful years as Chair of Liberal Judaism’s Rabbinic Conference including co-chairing Biennial 2012; Published childrenu2019s books for Passover and Sukkot/Simchat Torah as well as Never Mind the Bullocks for Religion Schools and Liberal Judaism: A Judaism for the Twenty First Century; and co-edited (with Rabbi Andrew Goldstein) the current Liberal Judaism Haggadah, published in 2010. Pete also regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio 2.
Phil Stone of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue has served the movement by being one of LJ’s official representatives on the Edgwarebury Joint Burial Board. As Treasurer of that Board, he has been responsible for overseeing a complete review of the operation of Edgwarebury Cemetery including taking a lead in the recruiting a new Director. He has also taken an active part in developing policy though the LJ Burial Officers meeting, and has assisted a number of LJ communities with their Funeral Schemes and databases. Phil carries out his responsibilities quietly and efficiently, he is one of the tireless workers for LJ and NPLS without whom we would be unable to function. He has the respect, affection and admiration of all who come into contact with him.
Reni Chapman has made an immense contribution to the development of Leicester Progressive Jewish Community and Liberal Judaism over the past 60 years. Reni was one of the earliest members of the Leicester Progressive Jewish Community. She joined in the 1950s and has been a mainstay ever since. Rene has served the community officially as Secretary, Newsletter Editor, President and Membership Officer. But she has also been a friend, confidant, educator and inspirational figure for many. She has as amazing ability to welcome and teach people who are rediscovering their Jewish heritage and radiates her love of Liberal Judaism in all that she does. Reni has lived with disabilities which limit her mobility. Reni had always coped admirably and without complaint: a shining example to us all of a Liberal women with strength and determination who has inspired generations of liberal Jews.
Simon Benscher stepped in as chairman of Woodford Liberal Synagogue during a difficult time, and helped turn it into a thriving community.
Simon Frais is the remarkably energetic and passionate leader of Kingston Liberal Synagogue’s youth club. He is also a member of the choir and KLS council. This September he will lead the family High Holy Day services.
Mike and Penny Beral, both former chairs of The Liberal Synagogue Elstree and currently joint president of the community, the Berals have masterminded four Biennial Weekends, In addition, Mike is a technical supremo acting as the community’s webmaster and supervisor of building works.
Ivor Miskin z”l of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue has fostered superb cross-community work as Chair of the Sussex Representative Council and co-editor of the Sussex Jewish News.
Hilda Schindler from Southgate Progressive Synagogue was a refugee from the Nazis. Now 90 years old, she help start the programme that became the CJE foundation course at Leo Baeck College and to set up the ULPS Holiday School, the forerunner of Kadimah Summer Camp.
Please note all information was correct at the time of nomination.