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British Liberal Jews told to 'interfere' in Israeli politics

9th June 2015

A succession of speakers at Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration have urged British Liberal Jews to get more involved in Israeli politics.

Rabbi Miri Gold – the ‘poster girl’ of the fight to recognise non-Orthodox rabbis in Israel – and Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, both told delegates how important the support of the Diaspora was to those fighting for religious pluralism and human rights inside of Israel.

In conversation with Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich, keynote speaker Miri said that support from the UK greatly helped as she battled to become the first Progressive rabbi to have her salary paid by the Israeli government, as well as in the continuing fight for equality for non-Orthodox strands of Judaism.
She poignantly added: “I remind myself that hope is a mitzvah, a commandment, and one which sustains me when times get rough.”

Anat, who is also a founding member of Women of the Wall, then urged British Jews to write to Israeli Ministers and the Embassy to add to the growing pressure for a pluralistic, open and inclusive Israel.

Responding to the issues raised, Rabbi Charley Baginsky – the chair of Liberal Judaism’s Rabbinic Conference – said: “Israel and the Diaspora need to seek a new relationship that has at its core mutuality. A sense not only that we need each other but that this relationship has the potential to be mutually beneficial and creative.”

Three hundred Liberal Jews from more than 30 communities gathered at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS) in St John’s Wood, London, for the Day of Celebration on Sunday June 7. The ages of delegates ranged from a four-month-old baby to members in their 90s.

It was the first ever Liberal Judaism event to be streamed over the internet making it a truly global occasion, with members and friends watching via a live feed in America, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and all around the UK. 

Guest presenters from Israel included Reut Michaeli, who talked about her work as CEO of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, and Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman and Nir Cohen from the World Zionist Organisation. Other speakers included Liberal Rabbis Harry Jacobi, Shulamit Ambalu, Sandra Kviat and Alexandra Wright, as well as representatives from the New Israel Fund, UK Task Force, Yachad, JW3, UJIA, the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture at Durham University, Leo Baeck College and the Movement for Reform Judaism.

The event ended with a farewell speech from Lucian J Hudson, the outgoing chair of Liberal Judaism, and the presentation of the Liberal Academy of Film & Torah Award to Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community, whose cheder won the competition to produce the best short film on the topic A Day in the Life of Israel.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “This was Liberal Judaism at its best. A sizeable but friendly crowd - representing more than 3/4 of our congregations - came together to discuss an issue, the Israel/Diaspora relationship, that can be divisive and controversial, but which we all agree needs to be examined and thought about.
“As a result of this day, Liberal Judaism’s policy towards Israel will continue to be supportive but nuanced, principled and occasionally critical.
“Overall, this was a great showcase for the Liberal Jewish family.”

Day of Celebration live stream

Can't make it to Liberal Judaism's Day of Celebration on Sunday 7 June? You can still follow all the action via Liberal Judaism's first ever live stream! Watch Rabbi Miri Gold in conversation with Rabbi Danny Rich from 10.45am, then the LAFTAs and closing ceremony from 3.15pm. To access the live stream, visit this page - no sign up or password will be required on the day. If you have problems accessing the live stream please click here or tweet us @liberaljudaism. If we can't see you at the LJS, we hope to see you online!

Liberal leaders preview Day of Celebration

We are less than ONE WEEK away from the biggest event of the Liberal Jewish year - the Day of Celebration!

Taking place at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue on Sunday June 7, Liberal Jews from all over the country will come together to discuss, debate, learn and hear from inspiring keynote speakers.

The full Day of Celebration programme can be viewed here. Please note that you will receive a paper copy of this at the event. 

Tickets are still available and can be booked via http://tinyurl.com/LJDOC2015

Below, Liberal Judaism’s Chief Executive and Chair introduce the event.


From Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism:
The Day of Celebration 2015 is Liberal Judaism’s biggest event of the year taking place in the home of our founding and largest congregation, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue. I am proud that we will be joined by members from almost all of Liberal Judaism’s 40 communities.
The theme of this year’s event is exploring the Liberal Jewish relationship with Israel. I know from meeting members and speaking in communities, up and down the country, that there is no uniform opinion on Israel in our Movement.
Some think about Israel every day; others not at all. I hear from those who marvel at Israel's achievements, and those who are increasingly worried about the direction the Government of Israel is taking.
Whatever your views, Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration has something for everyone – from fascinating conversation to a chance to hear guest speakers from Israel including Rabbi Miri Gold, Reut Michaeli and Anat Hoffman, as well as a full parallel programme and LAFTAs award ceremony for our youth.
And while Israel is an important topic discussion, this day is about so much more than that. It is about our successes, our growth and, above all else, our Liberal Judaism. So please take this opportunity to come together and celebrate as one Liberal community.
From Lucian J Hudson, Chair of Liberal Judaism:
This is my final Day of Celebration as Chair of Liberal Judaism but I doubt it will be my last.
The event is a unique opportunity for us as a community to engage with the central issues of Jewish identity and apply liberal values of critical thinking to them. In no respect is this task more necessary than in the context of our relationship as Liberal Jews with Israel.
It is a land of contradictions: beautiful yet uncomfortable, welcoming yet too easily divided, fiercely religious and assertively secular.
Too often Jews are afraid to face up to such contradictions, instead retreating into one dimensional stereotypes, but that is not the liberal way. We reject simple sloganising or apportioning of blame. We are prepared to embrace the contradictions and struggle with Israel’s complex political, social and religious problems.
But to fully engage we must do so from a position of knowledge. The better informed we are the more Liberal Judaism has to offer.

Learn more about Israel’s relationship with its refugees
Liberal Judaism is proud to welcome Reut Michaeli, the Executive Director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, to the UK.
Our members will be able to hear from Reut as part of Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration 2015, which is focused around exploring our relationship with Israel, as well as two special events within our communities.
Reut will be presenting on the Jewish values involved in helping us understand Israel's relationship with its refugees.
Her full schedule is below:
Date: Friday 5 June
Location: Kingston Liberal Synagogue
Time: 6:30 - 9pm
Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by a Chavurah supper, presentation and discussion.
Date: Saturday 6 June
Location: Southgate Progressive Synagogue
Time: 10am - 12:30pm
Coffee morning with presentation and discussion, followed by Shacharit service.
Date: Sunday 7 June
Location: Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration, Liberal Jewish Synagogue.
Reut will be speaking more generally about the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants’ work.

Young Liberals celebrated at Jewish News event

jn_25under25Four young Liberal Jews were honoured at The Jewish News’ Twenty-Five Under 25 and Forty-Under 40 celebration reception.

The event was hosted by Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn, at Facebook’s London HQ, with guests including Luciana Berger MP and Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer.

Miriam Steiner, Gabriel Webber, Abigail Jacobi and Robin Moss – pictured here at the event with Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich – were all recently named by the newspaper as among the most influential young Jews in the country.

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