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Rabbi Rich Gives Evidence to Equal Marriage Bill Committee – Watch Live

February 12 2013

Liberal Judaism’s chief executive, Rabbi Danny Rich, is to give evidence today to the Public Bill Committee on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. He is expected to convey Liberal Judaism’s strong support for the Bill in principle, and in particular, to urge the Committee to make provision in the Bill for religious groups to be able to opt in for the right to legally solemnise same sex marriages. Rabbi Rich has previously commented that equal marriage is “a matter of justice.” Rabbi Rich’s evidence can be read by clicking here. You can watch his submission to the committee live on the Parliament web TV channel by visiting this page. He is expected to speak at around 3pm.

The Bill has already passed through its first and second reading in the Commons, with a victory for equal marriage in the House. The Bill is now at the committee stage – in this case public – during which experts and interest groups from outside of Parliament will give evidence. The Bill is given a detailed examination and every clause is either agreed to, amended or removed. For more information on the committee stage, and the passage of a bill in general, please click here.

Liberal Judaism has long been an advocate of equal marriage, and became the first religious group to publish official liturgy for blessing same sex unions, with its 2005 publication of the Brit Ahava. The movement has already been receiving enquiries from same sex couples hoping to have a Jewish wedding, and is looking forward to being able to solemnise these with pride and joy in equal measure.

Rabbi Rich’s evidence will be made public in the next  couple of days.

Churches and synagogues 'priced out of civil partnership ceremonies

The Guardian
7 February 2013

Religious institutions have been priced out of offering civil partnership ceremonies by high licensing fees, according to Unitarian ministers and liberal rabbis.

Councils are charging churches and synagogues up to 16 times more for a three-year licence to hold civil partnership ceremonies than for a permanent licence to conduct marriages, Guardian research has revealed.

For more than a decade permanent marriage licences for religious buildings have been issued at a standard national cost of £120, set by the registrar general. But while the Equality Act of 2010 made it legal for civil partnership ceremonies to take place in religious buildings after December 2011, it also allowed local councils to set their own fees and conditions.

Hotels and other commercial venues pay much more for short-term marriage licences than religious buildings do for permanent ones. In contrast, many councils have chosen to charge places of worship the same fee as commercial venues for a three-year civil partnership licence. Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey county councils charge £2,000 for a three-year licence to hold civil partnership ceremonies in religious buildings.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, of the Northwood and Pinner Liberal synagogue in Hillingdon, west London, said: "Our synagogue decided not to register itself because of having to pay. We would have reconsidered if there had been immediate demand, but it feels a bit like being penalised for something that should be a right in society." Hillingdon council charges £460 for a three-year licence.  Read more

Weymouth welcomes Liberal Judaism

LIBERAL JUDAISM is helping to bring Jewish life back to Weymouth thanks to a series of well-received events in the seaside town. Our movement has been working closely with Lord Morris Mendoza over the last few months, aiming towards the goal of establishing a full and thriving Jewish community in Weymouth.

Lord Mendoza hosted a moving and uplifting Chanukkah celebration in December at his guest house, led by Liberal Rabbis Anna Gerrard and Pete Tobias. The next event was a cross-communal commemoration of National Holocaust Day and the planting of a tree in honour of the victims of Nazi brutality, replacing a previous tree which had stood for more than 10 years before being senselessly vandalised.

Council leaders liaised with Lord Mendoza – who lost almost all of his family in the Holocaust – on the ceremony, which was held on Friday January 25. Rabbi Pete returned to Weymouth to take part and was joined by more than 40 people. The event was hosted by the Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Margaret Leicester, with prayers from Reverend Chris Briggs and Rabbi Pete and some reflections by Lord Mendoza.

One of the elements of the day that was highlighted by Rabbi Pete was the fact that National Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 coincided with Tu Bishvat and that the significance of planting a tree represented both an act of memorial and an expression of hope for the future.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “Once again, Liberal Judaism's pioneering work in small communities, based on the great groundwork laid by Lord Mendoza, has seen this new group grow and develop.

“Some people at the Chanukkah gathering hadn’t celebrated a Jewish festival for 20 years and were moved to tears by the experience. I’m really excited about the future for Judaism in Weymouth and many more such events being held there.”

The next event in Weymouth will be a communal Seder, led by Rabbi Pete and held in Lord Mendoza’s guest house, on Monday March 25. For more information on the Seder and how you can get involved please contact Rabbi Pete on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Victims of Holocaust remembered at special services in Weymouth and Dorchester

Dorest Echo
7 February 2013

VICTIMS of the Holocaust were remembered at services in Weymouth and Dorchester.

Rabbi Pete Tobias, who regularly appears in Pause for Thought on Chris Evans’s BBC Radio Two show, joined a congregation of more than 40 people in Radipole Gardens in Weymouth.

The annual event is an international day of remembrance for the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and Tibet.

Among those gathered were the Mayor of Weymouth and PortlandMargaret Leicester and the leader of the Jewish community in Weymouth, Lord Morris Mendoza.  Read more

Warm welcome for equal marriage vote

6 February 2013

Liberal Judaism is delighted that ALL our members will soon have the right to get legally married by a rabbi in England or Wales, after an overwhelming vote in the House of Commons in favour of equal marriage.

Four hundred MPs voted for the historic bill, which will let same-sex couples marry in those religious institutions that choose to hold ceremonies.

It follows a long campaign by Liberal Judaism, and other progressive religions – including Quakers, Unitarians and now Reform Judaism - for full equality. During that time, Liberal Judaism produced (in 2005) the first liturgy for same-sex ceremonies and held meetings with senior politicians and public figures.

Meanwhile in Scotland, a second public consultation is underway to explore the details of legalising equal marriage, after an initial consultation in 2011 resulted in a resolution to introduce such a bill in principle. Liberal Judaism’s members and friends across the UK are invited to take part by visiting: http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/consultation. Liberal Judaism will be involved in giving evidence to the Scottish review later this year, and is writing to all MPs to put forward our case for allowing us, and other religions who choose to do so, to be allowed to officiate at legal religious weddings for all couples.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “This is primarily a matter of justice. Liberal Judiasm values marriage and is delighted the proposal will offer marriage to more people who want it."

All three leaders of the major British political parties supported the bill, which is now expected to pass through the House of Lords and become law.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Strong views exist on both sides but I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too, is a step forward for our country."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg added: “I genuinely believe that we will look back on today as a landmark for equality in Britain. No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay."

Leader of The Opposition Ed Miliband also gave strong backing to the bill, saying: "This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain.”

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