Date: Friday 9 May – Sunday 11 May 2014
Keynote Speakers: Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Fania Oz-Salzberger
Details: The 2014 Biennial Conference was titled ‘Radical Roots, Relevant Responses / Relevant Roots, Radical Responses’. Its aim was to challenge attendees to recall the words and actions of the founders of Liberal Judaism and use them as a springboard for individuals and communities to examine different ways of responding to their own future and that of the world around them. Rabbi Jonah Pesner – vice president of Liberal Judaism’s sister movement in America, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) – spoke passionately about his own life story and how it had inspired him and the URJ to get involved in major social action projects.
Did you know? With 320 Liberal Jews in attendance, from all around the UK and Ireland, this was the biggest Biennial ever.
Quote: Fania Oz-Salzberger, professor of history at the University of Haifa and co-author with her father, Amos Oz, of Jews and Words, said: “Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I felt at home in a community of likeminded people. There was a mood of celebration and self-confidence, as well as a thirst to learn and debate.”
Date: Friday 20 April – Sunday 22 April 2012
Details: The 2012 Biennial set delegates and communities a challenge – to continue to explore, challenge and develop in order to move Liberal Judaism forwards. Rabbi Pete Tobias, the chair of the organising committee, and a succession of speakers emphasised the need for a constant re-evaluation of which elements of our Judaism can bring meaning and purpose to the lives of Jews in the 21st century and which, while fascinating from a historical perspective, are best left in the past.
Did you know? Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, told delegates that this conference was the start of Liberal Judaism becoming “less polite and more pushy” about the movement’s achievements in reaching both Jews and non-Jews.
Quote: Lucian J Hudson, then chair of Liberal Judaism, said: “I would like to pay tribute to all the organisers of this year’s Biennial, who even managed to surpass my high expectations. The weekend was a success on every given measure and left me with an exciting sense of unfinished business. Spiritually spot on!”
Date: Friday 16 April – Sunday 18 April 2010
Details: The 2010 Biennial focussed on partnership, with guests outside of Liberal Judaism including Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, Rabbi Tony Bayfield and Stephen Moss, of the Movement for Reform Judaism, Stephen Ross, the executive director of Leo Baeck College, and Rev Harvey, the former canon theologian and sub-dean of Westminster Cathedral. In his closing address, at what was his first Biennial as chair, Lucian J Hudson reflected on the “warmth, depth and intimacy” of the conversations that had taken place
Did you know? The 2010 Biennial marked the first year that a youth conference was held in parallel, with and on the same premises, as the main Biennial Weekend.
Quote: First time attendee Monica Stoppleman said: “I really enjoyed the Biennial and, as I listened to the speakers and thought ‘well that’s what I think too’, I realised I was part of a movement that I’d never consciously joined. You see, I never chose the Progressive movement as such; I just went along to my local synagogue because it was there and it wasn’t Orthodox. I had never studied Liberal Jewish principles, but I did need to be around people who understood my particular brand of meschugas, were always willing to answer my questions, and understood why my knowledge was so gappy. The Biennial replicated and extended that experience.”