Yom Shishi, 26 Tishri 5776
Friday, 9 October 2015
Biennial Print E-mail

Thank you to all of you who attended our Biennial Conference 2014.

The feedback and the article in The JC speak for themselves – it was a phenomenal event with over 300 participants. Look out for a five-page Biennial special in our next edition of LJToday.

bienniallogo_for_lj_websiteBelow are extracts from the article featured in our next LJ Today:

The 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.

The keynote speaker Jonah Pesner – vice president of our 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. He completely drew in the audience, stirring a very British crowd of Jews to applaud, call out and talk one-on-one with each other in a very American way. His speech was described as “energising and totally intoxicating”.

Others to enthuse the Biennial with their words included Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich, chairman Lucian J Hudson, president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein and chair of Rabbinic Conference Rabbi Charley Baginsky.

Many members of the conference were also lucky enough to attend one of the sessions led by Fania Oz-Salzberger, professor of history at the University of Haifa and co-author with her father, Amos Oz, of Jews and Words. Fania brought new ideas and vision to the Biennial and formed a dream team with our own Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg. She said: “Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I felt at home with a community of like-minded people.”

One key goal of Biennial 2014 was a determination not to be locked into the past, nor to spend time visioning without learning from the present. Time was specifically dedicated to sharing the real issues within our communities and the promotion of Liberal Judaism’s Resource Bank and Philosophy of Co-operation. Each community also created their own door to display at the Biennial, allowing congregations a chance to celebrate and share the work they do and provide a means to inspire others. Perhaps the most significant innovation of this year’s event was the launch of the Emerging Leadership Network (ELN), bringing together future leaders from each community to meet, support each other and attend bespoke sessions.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky – chair of the Biennial organising committee – said: “While I wanted to help create a conference that would be an inspiring weekend, a weekend is simply a moment – Liberal Judaism needs a conference that helps people transform their moments on Biennial into actions that create continual moments within their home communities.”

The final session, run by Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk, brought together the feeling that ran throughout the weekend that the radical and relevant responses of Liberal Judaism had been reinvigorated. These were then transformed into individual commitments to take the Biennial’s work home to all those that had not had the privilege of attending.

Biennial 2014 may have been a moment, but it was a moment that Liberal Judaism can be truly proud of.