Yom Shabbat, 9 AdarI 5775
Saturday, 28 February 2015
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Keynote speakers announced for Day of Celebration

25th February 2015

By Rabbi Charley Baginsky (chair of the Day of Celebration committee)

Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration, our movement’s key event of 2015, will be held in central London at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue on Sunday June 7.

Based around the theme of Israel, Liberal Judaism is proud to announce four keynote speakers.

The first is Rabbi Miri Gold. It is a real privilege for Liberal Judaism to play host to such a prestigious guest. Rabbi Miri Gold really represents the close relationship between the Diasporic Progressive world and the Israeli one. Her presence at the event is a wonderful model of the potential significance of this relationship. Rabbi Gold, who serves Kibbutz Gezer, is the first non-Orthodox rabbi in Israel to have her salary paid by the government after a long, and ultimately successful, legal battle.

The second Progressive rabbi to join us will be long term friend of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Ofek Meir. As well as being the shliach (emissary) to Liberal Judaism in the 1990s, Ofek is currently the rabbi of Leo Baeck Education Centre.

Ofek was also responsible for founding and directing the work of the Lokey International Academy of Jewish Studies until 2006 and he is an inspirational teacher, rabbi and musician.

In addition we will be joined a senior Israeli VIP and Reut Michaeli, the Chief Executive of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants in Israel.

All four guest speakers promise to ensure that the Day of Celebration will be an inspiring and creative event, which will challenge us to develop our unique Liberal Jewish relationship with Israel.

There will also be a fantastic array of sessions suitable for a mix of knowledge and interest. Some will be text based and others rooted in creative media, such as music, dance and food. Topics will include how the Israeli media portrays Europe, Israel after the elections, Israelis in LJ communities and details of projects that you can get involved in. Sessions will also be suitable for those in school years 8 and above.

No Liberal Jewish event would be complete without a full programme run by LJY-Netzer for those in years 1 to 7 – mirroring the main conference – and a professionally run crèche.

Finally, the day gives the chance to meet people from other communities and feel part of a national movement. Adult tickets are priced at £25, with children’s at £12. Family tickets are available for up two adults and up to four children at £50. You can book by visiting www.tinyurl.com/LJDOC2015

 
Liberal Judaism joins prestigious research and documentary film project

February 25th 2014

Liberal Judaism is proud to be part of Ritual Reconstructed - a collaborative project which involves working with London-based Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities to explore faith rituals which combine both Jewish and LGBTQI identities.

The project is a collaboration between Liberal Judaism/Rainbow Jews, Buckinghamshire New University, Coventry University and the University of Portsmouth. Funding has been awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Ritual Reconstructed will use film, performance, installation and storytelling to look at the ways in which Jewish people who identify as LGBTQI engage in religious and community life.

Ritual Reconstructed are interested in finding out how being LGBTQI has influenced, shaped or changed Jewish faith rituals and how our Jewish selves have influenced LGBTQI rituals. Anyone who is over 18 and identifies as Jewish and LGBTQI or an ally can get involved. To take part, please email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Twilight People and Rainbow Jews project manager Surat Shaan Knan, who is a key organiser for Ritual Reconstructed, told the Jewish News: “The Ritual Reconstructed project follows on from Rainbow Jews exploring how LGBTQI Jews today feel about their community, how we express our intersecting identities, and how we can work towards greater equality and inclusion.

“We do great things, but it’s always better when many Jews do them together. So, I hope many LGBTQI Jews and allies will join us – we have some really exciting activities lined up!”

To read the full Jewish News article, go to http://www.jewishnews.co.uk/ritual-reconstructed-exploring-lgbtqi-faith-rituals/

 
A statement from Rabbi Danny Rich following the attacks in Copenhagen

16th February 2015

It is with both sadness and a sense of outrage that we received the news of the murderous attacks on a cultural centre and the Orthodox Jewish Community of Copenhagen.

As in the case of the recent Paris atrocity, the perpetrators of this violence sought both to close down discussions about freedom of expression and inflict a grievous wound on the local Jewish community.

Liberal Judaism is proud to employ Rabbi Sandra Kviat – the first Danish-born Progressive Rabbi – as Education Director. Rabbi Kviat has close links with her home community “Shir Hatzafon”, the Liberal Jewish Community of Copenhagen.  We are in touch with its leadership who are in turn working with the local Orthodox Community to ensure the safety of Jewish people in Copenhagen.

Our horror does not minimise our commitment to the value of free speech (even when we do not always like its results) and neither will we retreat from efforts to create good communal relations and a decent society in Europe. As we have said and will continue to say, the best response to closed minds is open doors.

 
Bury St Edmunds hosts Holocaust Memorial Day Service

27th January 2015
Bury Free Press

A poignant reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and other past genocides was unveiled in Bury St Edmunds today.

Crowds gathered in the Abbey Gardens for the town’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day Service which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and marked 21 years since the Rwandan Genocide and 20 years since Bosnia’s Srebrenica Massacre.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, sub-dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “Here in peaceful Bury St Edmunds these appalling events can seem like a world away. So it’s our responsibility to use our imagination and to make that connection because all humanity is connected and we are all affected by these events.”

The new Peace Garden, formally opened today by Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, provided a dignified setting for the service and will, it is hoped, help ‘keep the memory alive’ - the theme of this year’s service.

A stainless steel teardrop sculpture stands a metre and a half tall at the centre of the garden, surrounded by 57 cobble stones - one for each of the 57 Jews murdered in Bury on Palm Sunday in 1190 - and two benches to allow visitors a place for quiet reflection.

Rabbi Rich said the garden represented ‘the triumph of hope’ and ‘the possibility that hate can be overcome by goodwill, love and appreciation that it is one creator who created every human being and that every human soul - whether Jew or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Sikh or of no faith - is as valuable as the next one’.

Addressing the many school children at the service, he said: “It’s important that we remind ourselves of those memories because the one thing we hope that you children will learn from history is to do better than we’ve done, that your generation and those who come after you will learn from the mistakes that previous generations have made and will create the type of world in which, ironically, a peace garden won’t be needed.”  Read more

 
The only meaningful response to antisemitism is openness

Letter to The Guardian, 22nd January 2015

The only meaningful response to antisemitism is openness

Robert Booth reports (20 January) that “UK Jews are braced for the worst” in an extensive article filled with antisemitic incidents, reported jihadist plots and suitcases packed to leave Britain. While the Paris tragedy and the spike in antisemitic incidents during last summer’s Gaza conflict demand that we remain vigilant and support individuals who are feeling vulnerable, reports from Liberal Judaism constituents seem to affirm the truism that “Britain is good for the Jews and the Jews are good for Britain”.

The challenge of reports like that of Robert Booth’s is that they do not constitute evidence of an actual increased risk of attack but rather they increase the risk of the Jewish community cutting itself off from the wider community and retreating to fortress synagogues, schools and community centres. It is impossible to contribute to an open, welcoming and inclusive society while locking ourselves away; and we cannot confront prejudice if we see only malevolence in our neighbours. The only meaningful, long-term response to antisemitism is to reach out to those of other faiths and of none, to study and work together, and – through our openness – give the lie to the ignorance and hatred which lurks behind sealed doors.

That is why, this Shabbat as every other, strangers will be particularly welcome in our communities. The only response to closed minds is open doors.

Rabbi Danny Rich Chief executiveLucian J Hudson ChairRabbi Charley Baginsky Chair, Rabbinic conference, Liberal Judaism

 
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