Yom Shishi, 8 AdarI 5775
Friday, 27 February 2015

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Progressives pledge to pay staff the living wage

The JC
7th November 2013

Liberal Judaism plans to be the first synagogue movement to adopt the living wage across all its congregations.

The wage — a voluntary initiative launched 12 years ago by the grass-roots activist movement Citizens UK — this week rose to £7.65 an hour nationally and to £8.80 an hour in London.

It is intended to indicate the lowest income needed to live on, and is set higher than the legal national minimum wage, which recently rose to £6.31 an hour for adults.

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said: “We are trying to make sure all our communities sign up to the living wage by our next biennial meeting in May. How could a Liberal synagogue committed to the social justice of our founders not do so?”

The wage would apply not only to employees but also to contracts negotiated for cleaning services, he explained.

Finchley Reform Synagogue announced this week that it was the first individual synagogue to be accredited as a living-wage employer.

The shul’s Rabbi Miriam Berger joined London Mayor Boris Johnson, at a Citizens UK event on Monday to announce the increase in the wage.

She said employers had a responsibility to take care of their employees, “so that they in turn can take care of their families”.

She hoped other synagogues would to follow Finchley’s lead.

The living wage is calculated nationally by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy and in London by the Greater London Authority’s living wage unit.

Leather-clad bikers burn up the stereotypes in trans-America odyssey

The JC
1st November 2013

Jewish voyages of self-discovery are not uncommon, but few of them feature leather jackets and high-performance motorbikes.

Indeed, so unusual is the “Ride to Remember” — in which seven riders and a female rabbi traversed the North American continent on two wheels — that it became the subject of a Sky Atlantic documentary series.

With female Liberal rabbi Anna Gerard riding pillion, an assortment of Orthodox and secular bikers set off across America to raise money for Holocaust education courses.

The ride inspired documentary maker David Notman to follow their journey after meeting members of north London bike gang “Yids on Bikes” and hearing about their trip.

He commented: “Rightly or wrongly, everyone I tell about this series is surprised that Jewish bikers exist at all.”

Gary King, from Watford, who rode on the trip, was impressed by the profile his American counterparts enjoy.

“There is an Israel parade in New York where they shut down the whole of Fifth Avenue for the riders. The Star of David is everywhere. It is amazing — you wouldn’t see that here. I’m proud to tell people I’m a Jewish biker now.”

The group made pit stops along the way, meeting people from a wide range of backgrounds, from Jewish and non-Jewish bikers to small-town residents.

Rabbi Gerard explained that the group had originally wanted a bike-riding rabbi to join them. “I don’t ride a bike, but I agreed to go on the back of one. It felt like a unique experience and opportunity to explore all aspects of Jewish culture across America,” she said.  Read more

Liberal Jews Fight for Spurs Living Wage

17th October 2013

A group of Liberal Jewish rabbis, LJY-Netzer movement workers and staff joined a coalition of community groups led lj_living_wageby Citizens UK yesterday to call on the football club Tottenham Hotspurs to start paying its cleaners a living wage. Together the coalition delivered over 1,000 letters to the club’s director Donna Cullen (of which 100 came from Liberal Judaism and LJY-Netzer), asking her to meet with Citizens UK and calling on her to start paying her cleaners a living wage.

The Living Wage Campaign, described by PM David Cameron as ‘an idea whose time has come,’ calls for every worker in the country to earn enough to be able to provide their families with the essentials of life. In London the living wage is £8.55 an hour, while outside London it is £7.45.

Sam Grant, Liberal Judaism’s communities youth coordinator, said: “Liberal Judaism has a proud history of fighting for fair labour wages. It is a historical commandment as well as a modern moral imperative. We were delighted to work together with Citizens UK on this and hope the campaign, for Tottenham Hotspurs to be the first football club to pay a living wage, will succeed.”

Renewed call for board/JLC merger after chief executive steps down

The JC
October 10 2013

The president of Liberal Judaism* has called on the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to renew efforts to unite into a single body.

Lucian Hudson said that last week’s decision by JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark to step down for health reasons created a new opportunity.

Mr Hudson, who is a member of the JLC council, expressed sadness at Mr Newmark’s departure, saying that he was “an outstanding leader”.

But he added that the JLC “must treat this as a strategic opportunity with the Board of Deputies to create one single professional body that serves Jewish leadership. We need to be forward-looking and properly consider options, and see this as a way for the leadership of UK Jewry to be more efficient and effective, whatever temporary arrangements are put in place”. Read more

*Lucian Hudson is the Chairman of Liberal Judaism.  

Rabbi Rich accuses Mail of “Playing with Fire” over Miliband attack

Commenting on last week’s Daily Mail attack on Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph, as “the man who hated Britain” Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism said that the newspaper was “playing with fire”.

“The danger is that the paper’s attack on Ralph Miliband gives legitimacy to those that seek to cast all refugees and immigrants as ‘outsiders’ and question their loyalty. This is a concern not only for Jews but all those that share our experience and with whom we must stand,” Rabbi Rich argued.

The quote was widely reported not just in the Jewish media but in The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Observer and on Sky News.

Rabbi Rich was careful to distance himself from other commentators who accused the Mail of anti-semitism, instead expressing the concern that their position legitimised the idea of immigrants and refugees as “outsiders”, with suspect loyalties.  In doing this, Rabbi Rich choose to emphasise Liberal Jewish values by universalising the message in line with the injunction “not to mistreat or oppress the stranger for we were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21)

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