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Liberal Jews Joined by Orthodox Counterparts at Shabbaton in Eastbourne

11th March 2013

60 people from 11 different Liberal communities - including Hereford in the Welsh borders - came to the Kings Conference Centre in Eastbourne for a small communities' Shabbaton on Satruday 2rd March. They were joined by members of the town’s orthodox community, who came for lunch and lectures in the afternoon. Four liberal rabbis – Danny Rich, Anna Gerrard, Sandra Kviat and Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah and a student rabbi, Emily Jurman, led seminars. The day was also pepped up with a dance seminar led by dancer Jackie Richards.

eastbourne_shabbatonThe event was an opportunity for people to renew and refresh their connections to Judaism, to explore new avenues on their Jewish journeys.

Organiser Suzanne Paginton: “We’re extremely pleased that the day was so successful. We’ve had tremendously positive feedback and we had the opportunity not only to vertically network with other Liberal congregations across the regions, but also to welcome the wider Eastbourne Jewish community who turned out to support the event. We’re looking forward to further events this year.”

Liberal Judaism’s outreach director, Rabbi Anna Gerrard, said: “Liberal Judaism is committed to bringing its services to Jews all over the country. The Shabbaton in Eastbourne brought together Jews from many different backgrounds, and gave participants the chance to learn from each other as well as from Liberal rabbis.”

Rabbi Danny Rich Appears on Seven BBC Radio Programmes

Liberal Judaism’s chief executive, Rabbi Danny Rich, gave live interviews to seven BBC Radio programmes on Sunday morning. The items were a response to a recent survey which showed that most parents now believe that childhood ends at 12. Rabbi Rich outlined Liberal Judaism’s approach to coming to age – referring to Bar/Bat Mitzvah as well as Kabbalat Torah. He also referred to the challenges of parenting – something that he, as a father of four, is highly qualified to comment on. He reminded listeners that in times gone by, children were often married off at 12 or 13 and said, “a child is a great gift in Judaism and part of the Jewish message is that the child is a joint responsibility of the parents and the community.” Listen again on BBC Radio Manchester here, at 1hr 9mins in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p015lvv6.

Zionist turns on Zionist in 'anti-Israel' attack

The JC
28 February 2013

The Zionist Federation has refused to accept grassroots advocacy group Yachad as an affiliate member after claiming the organisation's day-to-day activities do not support Zionism - despite ZF chairman Paul Charney admitting in an email to Yachad that there were "no grounds" for vetoing its application.

Yachad had taken part in a 10-month-long process to join the ZF, which operates as an umbrella group for British Zionists and represents more than 120 other organisations.

ZF affiliate member organisations voted on Monday to reject the application. Mr Charney told Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld that "it simply went to vote, and the vote went against you".

Mr Charney later said that the ZF's affiliate members were concerned about Yachad's positions on settlement expansion and the boycott of products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Groups wishing to join the ZF must be Zionist, "not just in theory, but in practice, day-to-day", he said. "Yachad's message on boycotting West Bank goods is not clear enough. People felt that was an issue. They are very unclear."

Yachad is explicit in its statements that it does not support the boycott of any Israeli products. It says in tandem that it opposes further investment in the West Bank.

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism and a ZF patron, said: "I'm surprised in one sense since Yachad is a respectable Zionist organisation and I can see no reason why it would not be suitable for membership. But bearing in mind the campaign there was to remove me as a trustee of the ZF, nothing the organisation does any longer surprises me." Read more

Building on the Strategy Day

by Lucian J. Hudson, Chairman of Liberal Judaism

The collective leadership of Liberal Judaism started 2013 with a Strategy Day, an important start in bringing together members of the Board of National Officers, representatives of Rabbinic Conference and local communities and some of our vice presidents. This is the model of collaborative leadership that best fits the character of our movement – independent-minded yet co-operating on shared values and objectives.

The timing could not be better. Liberal Judaism is on a roll with 39 communities, a thriving youth movement, a balanced budget and the national organisation legally incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. The inspiring outreach programme of Rabbi Anna Gerrard and her team is a strong example of delivering results on the ground.

Last year’s Biennial Weekend was a resounding success. Yet many of us feel that we could do better still, particularly in three areas: developing our vision and voice; making an even more distinctive contribution to Judaism and wider society; and supporting our communities and individual Liberal Jews in their journey. The three areas are, of course, intimately connected.

The Board of National Officers is now working through specific ideas that Strategy Day discussed, by stepping up the pace in developing a strategic plan and improving the functioning of its main leadership bodies, especially communication between them.

The Torah is a source of eternal wisdom, especially when read in connection with contemporary and historical references. It invites a dialogue, not least in what it does not say. As Jews we tap into a particular tradition where every generation produces leadership of its time, and for its time – and sometimes ahead of its time.

The Torah has a telling ‘strategy and management’ moment when Moses is challenged by his father-in-law, Jethro, to ease the burden of his leadership and delegate. This encounter carries at least three lessons: Moses could not lead or manage alone; it took an outsider to tell him; and Moses was wise and shrewd enough to realise he had to change.

Moses was humble and imperfect in his leadership, yet a credible and trusted leader who demonstrated courage and tenacity. He was shown the Promised Land, and told that he would never reach it. This is one of the most precious insights that Judaism has bestowed on Western civilisation: that sometimes enough is plenty, because the work is not just ours to do. Others in this generation, and future generations, will build on today’s achievements.

Read more of Lucian J. Hudson's articles for LJ Today by clicking here

Articles and media appearances by Lucian J. Hudson can be found on this page.

London Citizens appoints first Jewish community worker

The JC
February 14 2013

A former Reform youth leader who once learned Arabic in Damascus has become London Citizens’ first designated Jewish community worker.

Charlotte Fischer, 25, from south-east London, has a twin role: she is promoting the grassroots activist organisation within the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, which are sponsoring her post.

She will also be London Citizen’s Barnet worker, fostering alliances between faith communities and other groups.  Read more

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