Yom Sheini, 26 Tishri 5775
Monday, 20 October 2014

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Stephen Fry saves Rainbow Jews

WORLD RENOWNED actor and comedian Stephen Fry has donated more than £2,000 to Rainbow Jews to keep the ground-breaking LGBT oral history project running.

Rainbow Jews had been seeking to raise funds to continue its great work through an online crowdfunding initiative. With just two days left to run, and after already making one donation, Stephen gave the exact amount needed for the project to hit its target. The actor had earlier Tweeted his support for Rainbow Jews and encouraged his millions of followers to also contribute.

Stephen also sent a personal message, saying: “It really is my pleasure and pride to be able to help.”

Rainbow Jews founder Surat Knan said: “Now that the two-year Heritage Lottery Fund grant has finished, we needed to find further aid to continue. Many within Liberal Judaism and beyond – including chairman Lucian J Hudson and Rabbi Richard Jacobi – had been very generous. But with just 48 hours to go, I wasn’t so sure if we could make it. Then Stephen’s donation came in. Words can’t describe how grateful we are.

“His support has really made a huge difference. Not only financially, but also helping us bring this hidden history to the widest possible audience. With Stephen’s help, we will now be able to continue serving the community ensuring that our history will not become our past.

“Hopefully the Rainbow Jews legacy will help especially young LGBT people from the various faith communities so that they can celebrate and live both of their identities.”

For more information on Rainbow Jews and how you can help support the project, please visit www.rainbowjews.com

Liberal Judaism would welcome vote for recognition of Palestine‏

13th October 2014

Liberal Judaism today released the following statement:

Liberal Judaism would welcome a vote in support of giving recognition to Palestine alongside Israel in the House of Commons tonight as an inevitable step in achieving a two state solution. Recognition of statehood cannot be a bargaining chip in negotiations but instead is a right and should be seen as a statement of mutual respect.

But this can only be the start of a process, not an end. Neither side must be allowed to use a recognition of Palestinian statehood as an excuse to avoid - or work round - bilateral negotiations, which are ultimately the only way in which a just and sustainable settlement can be achieved.

Lucian J Hudson (Chairman) and Rabbi Danny Rich (Chief Executive)

Rabbis, Bishops and Imams call on Redbridge Council to Offer Sanctuary to UN refugees

10th October 2014

Yesterday, 8th October, at the start of the Jewish Festival of Succot at Bet Tikvah Synagogue in Ilford, senior faith leaders Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, Imam Mohamed Fahim (South Woodford Mosque), Father Brian McGrath (Saint Thomas of Canterbury), Rabbi David Hulbert (Bet Tikvah Synagogue, Ilford) and Iris Radulin, a refugee leader from Albanian community organization Shpresa (‘Hope’ in English), joined members of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, to call upon the Leader of Redbridge Council, Jas Athwal, to resettle a small number of vulnerable refugees living in UN camps near war-zones such as Syria and Iraq. Currently the UK has resettled fewer than 20 refugee families from Syria since the start of the crisis.

This action is part of a Citizens UK campaign held during Succot, during which time diverse leaders of faith and no faith will be standing in traditional Succot temporary shelters to remember the refugee experience of their ancestors as a means of highlighting the plight that refugees face today. The Succot events will all include a request to local authorities to help double the number of refugees that the UK currently admits.

The campaign hopes to persuade 15 local authorities to offer sanctuary to 50 people annually, which would increase the number of refugees resettled in the UK from just 750 to 1,500. Local authorities that agree will receive financial support from a UN refugee resettlement scheme funded by the UK government and the EU.


Rabbi Danny Rich said: “I pledge that Liberal Judaism’s synagogues will build temporary dwellings during the Jewish festival of ‘Succot’ and invite our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters in to join us, as part of our work to ask our local councils to resettle refugee families in our neighbourhoods.”

In response to a question by Father Brian McGrath about whether he would meet with Redbridge Citizens to seriously discuss resettlement of refugee families in the next month, Cllr Athwal said: “I want to look at the technical detail of what resettlement actually involves. I am pleased to meet with you to discuss this issue. Armed with this knowledge, we can come forward with something positive so that we can go away having helped some families to make their lives better."

The call to help follows an urgent request by the UN for safe countries to resettle refugees and relieve the pressure on Syria and Iraq’s neighbouring countries that are supporting 2.3 million refugees. The UK is the sixth richest country in the world, yet has resettled fewer than 20 refugee families from Syria since the start of the crisis – not enough people to fill a single-decker bus. In contrast, Germany has committed to settle 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Last week, the Obama administration announced it would greatly increase the number of Syrian refugees approved for permanent resettlement in the United States next year. The State Department is reviewing more than 4,000 applications.

Angela Meyler, Citizens UK member, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church, Redbridge, said: “Citizens UK represents a variety of institutions from across civil society, including churches, synagogues and mosques. Together we believe that we can make a difference. This isn’t about an open door immigration policy; it’s about helping some of the most vulnerable refugees and supporting them to safety here in the UK.” Succot has marked the start of the Citizens UK ‘Season of Sanctuary’ and will be followed by more events around Islamic New Year (24th Oct), and the Feast of St Nicholas (6th Dec) to continue to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and the opportunity local communities have to help.

Donate blood and give the gift of life

Liberal Judaism has started 5775 by announcing a month of giving. Through a series of articles on www.liberaljudaism.org we are asking you, our members, to donate things that are more important than money.

As part of this initiative, Liberal Judaism has teamed up with The Joely Bear Appeal and NHS Blood and Transplant to boost the number of Jewish blood donors, as well as those donating bone marrow and organs.

Our movement has joined all the other major strands of Judaism, including the United Synagogue, in supporting The Joely Bear Appeal’s 5775 for 5775 campaign, aiming to register 5775 new blood donors from within the Jewish community over the next year.

It is a shocking statistic that, of the population of adults able to donate blood, only 4% actually do. Blood products are necessary for a number of uses other than just transfusion, and some of these are linked to the ethnic background of the recipient – making the need for Jewish donors even more vital.

Leigh Renak, chairman of the Joely Bear Appeal, said: “For 20 years, The Joey Bear Appeal has been working with NHS Blood and Transplant, targeting improving these statistics. We have enjoyed considerable local success.

“We have set out to eliminate the excuses that individuals may have as to why they are unable to donate. We run sessions on Sunday, within the local community, and make substantial provision for young children (such as a crèche) and we also ensure that everyone is well fed.

“Our ambition now is to work with the Jewish Community to roll out our model on a wider scale. Blood donation is a non-financial Tzedakah that all healthy adults can, and should, be encouraged to make. It is the gift of life.”

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich added: “In addition to the obvious Pikuach Nefesh – saving a life – priority that blood and bone marrow donations can produce, the New Year seems an opportune time for each of us to reflect on what we can do in a non-financial sense to make 5775 a joyous time for others.”

If you wish to donate blood, bone marrow or organs, then call NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk

For those unable to give blood, there are still plenty of ways to help. The Joely Bear Appeal are always looking for volunteers to help run donation sessions and other activities.

For more information on The Joely Bear Appeal and how you can become a blood donor visit www.joelybear.org.uk

Stephen Fry pledges support for Rainbow Jews

World renowned actor and comedian Stephen Fry has tweeted his support for Rainbow Jews, the ground-breaking LGBT oral history project hosted by Liberal Judaism:


The actor then made a very generous donation to Rainbow Jews and left a further message saying: "Good luck and (belated) good yom tov to all: from the libbest liberals to the frummest frummers… x"

Rainbow Jews is seeking to raise funds via online crowdfunding to continue its great work – including an archive and exhibition documenting personal testimonies from British LGBT Jews; exploring the struggles, changes and issues experienced by the community from the 1950s to today.

Stephen tweeted: “You can help save Britain’s pioneering Jewish LGBT history project @RainbowJews from closing down. Donate & RT now.”

Donation can be made until October 14 via http://igg.me/at/rainbowjewslegacy or directly to Liberal Judaism. Rainbow Jews hopes to attract also long-term patrons to support the project and be ambassadors for the cause.

Project manager Surat Shaan Knan said: “We are excited about Stephen Fry’s support urging his six million plus followers to donate to Rainbow Jews. This is really the last chance to save this pioneering oral history initiative, there’s less than a week left - until 14 October.

“We thank everyone who has so generously donated, but more than £3000 is still needed to keep our work for the community going. Please donate whatever you can and help us make it happen!”

For more information on Rainbow Jews go to www.rainbowjews.com

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