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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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Liberal Judaism Responds to the Murder of Three Israeli Teenagers

In response to yesterday's discovery of the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers - Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach - Liberal Judaism's Chief Executive, Rabbi Danny Rich, made the following statement: 

“The murder of three innocent teenagers is beneath contempt and has rightly been condemned across the world, including by moderate voices on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. The test now is this: will we allow their murderers to dictate the tone, or can we find it in our hearts to respond to violence and hatred with an even greater determination to seek peace and justice?”

Jewish worshippers attend York's first regular Shabbat service in 40 years

The York Press
25th June 2014

ALMOST 50 Jewish worshippers of all ages attended York’s first regular Shabbat morning service in 40 years.

The participants included a couple of members of York’s last Synagogue, which closed in 1975.

Numbers were so much greater than expected that the service had to be moved from a room at the Friends Meeting House in Friargate to another, larger room.

Led by Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, the service lasted about an hour, with participants ranging in age from two years old to people well into their eighties.

They included more than a dozen children, who were encouraged by Rabbi Rich to join in every aspect of the service, including helping to undress the Torah scroll. Other participants included students from the university and visitors to York.

The service was followed by a bring-and-share picnic in Rowntree Park, attended by about 30 people.

Services will now be held regularly on the second Saturday of each month at 11am in the Fox Room of the Meeting House.  Read more

Prayers for the three missing Israeli teenagers

June 20th 2014

Jewish communities across the world have expressed concern for the wellbeing of the three Israeli teenagers who went missing last week.  As the mother of one of the boys said ‘All we want is to hug our children’.

At the conclusion of Southgate Progressive Synagogue’s AGM last Wednesday, Rabbi Yuval Keren led prayers for the safe return of the boys..

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, who had spoken at the meeting added, ‘It is hard to imagine what these boys and their parents must be going through.  The abduction of children and actions against civilians is wrong in all circumstances and will do nothing to further the cause of peace which would enable Israeli and Palestinian families.

He forwarded to all Liberal rabbis and community leaders the following two prayers:

Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Chair of MARAM, the Reform Rabbinic Council in Israel wrote:

"May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that you may lead to life and peace the abducted young men Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel, and guide them to return safely to their families and loved-ones who fear for their safety; may you save them from the hands of an enemy and he who lurks them and all calamities, and may you send a blessing to all that they do; may you hear the voice of our prayer and the prayers of all those wishing upon peace and justice, life and goodness. You listen to entreaty and prayer. Blessed are you God, who hears our prayers. Amen."

Our sister movement in the North America released the following prayer:

God of the prisoner,
God of the captive,
The voice of anguish echoes across the land.
Our sons,
Kidnapped, hijacked,
Torn from their lives and dreams,
Are held captive by violence and hatred
By those who would take our land
And destroy our people.

Guardian of Israel,
Bless those who have dedicated themselves to returning
Our sons to safety and shelter.
Grant them skill and wisdom
In this hour of need.
Give them the tools they need in the days ahead.
Bless their work.
Let success be close at hand.

This dismay is almost too much to bear.
Return Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel, and Elad Yifrach
To the cradle of their parents’ arms,
And the refuge of their homes,
Speedily, in life and in health.
Bless their families with endurance and faith
That they will soon be reunited in the fullness of joy.
Bless our boys, in their captivity,
With hope and courage.
Grant them the strength and fortitude
To face, chas v’shalom, any shames or tyrannies forced upon them.

Rock of Israel,
Hasten their release.
Grant them lives of Torah and parnasa,
Rich with health and happiness,
Joy and peace.
Let rescue be near.

ברוך אתה ה אלוקינו מלך העולם מתיר אסורים
Blessed are you, Adonai our God,
Sovereign of universe,
Who releases the captive.

Rabbis attack poverty

The JC
June 19th 2014

More than 40 rabbis across four different denominations have said they are "deeply disturbed" by the country's failure to tackle child poverty.

In a letter to the Guardian, 44 Jewish leaders noted the findings of the government's Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which stated that the goals laid out in its 2005 Make Poverty History campaign were "simply unattainable". The report said 3.5 million children are likely to be living in absolute poverty in the UK by 2020 - five times the target set in 2005.

Among the figures who signed the letter were Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive for Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, Orthodox rabbi Natan Levy, social action consultant to the Board of Deputies, and Masorti rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

Led by Rabbi Alexandra Wright of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, the rabbis wrote: "The gap between rich and poor is a shameful blot on our society. All of us, from the government down, must have a commitment to… bring an end to economic injustice."  Read more

Liberal Judaism Chairman comments on counter-terrorism strategy

The JC
20th June 2014

Some family rows are worth having. After a stormy fortnight in Westminister, we should reflect that Michael Gove and Theresa May may in fact have done the British public a favour by surfacing a genuine tension in our approach to combating radicalisation and preventing terrorism.

The Jewish community in the UK can only benefit from a wake-up call and renewed debate on counter-terrorism strategy. Government, at the centre and locally, can only do so much. Citizens and communities need to be continuously vigilant. As the government's own Prevent Strategy states: "Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat of Al Qa'eda inspired terrorism is not."

In my 10 years as a senior civil servant serving under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and working directly to four Cabinet ministers, one issue dominated government concerns: the UK's resilience following 9/11 and the London 7/7 bomb attacks. As a member then of the National Criminal Justice Board, and chairing a cross-Whitehall communications directors group, my aim was to communicate the risk tothe public, so that citizens themselves, and by extension communities, took responsibility. Our message was be "alert" - not "alarmed".  Read more

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