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Rabbi Danny Rich in Haaretz on RE in Schools

26th November 2013

Liberal Judaism’s chief executive, Rabbi Danny Rich, has written an incisive opinion piece for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which he advocates for more rigorous religious education in schools, arguing that community cohesion depends on it.

The full article is behind the paywall but you can read it via a Twitter link by following @LiberalJudaism. Subscribers can click here

 
A past mitzvah honoured in Stevenage

November 25th 2013
The JC

Just before the beginning of the Second World War, 500 Jewish children, mostly refugees from Nazi persecution, were evacuated with their teachers to Shefford, a small Bedfordshire town 15 miles north-west of Stevenage, where the North Herts Liberal Jewish Community is now based. The children were taken in and looked after by Shefford families until the end of the war.

When NHLJC heard of “this amazing generosity”, the congregation decided “to use Mitzvah Day as a means of demonstrating that a mitzvah like this is never forgotten”.

Working closely with the Mayor of Shefford, Councillor Paul Mackin, shul members arranged an afternoon tea for 50 residents of the town. And the guests included relatives of some of those who hosted the young Jews 70 years ago. “We also received offers of help from Churches Together in Shefford and the Shefford Historical Society, making this a truly interfaith event,” said shul chair Gillian Wolfe.  

 
The day they said Kaddish in Westminster Abbey

November 14th 2013
The JC

For more than 1,000 years, Westminster Abbey has been one of the most important sites of Christian worship in the country. But, last Sunday, it was the venue for a poignant ceremony of Jewish remembrance.

In a special service commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Jews joined with Christians to recite prayers, sing sacred songs and hear testimony from survivors.

The service started with a solemn procession by members of the Belsize Square Synagogue bearing six memorial candelabra up the central aisle of the abbey. The occasion was especially moving for them as their synagogue was founded in 1939 by German refugees fleeing the Nazi terror.

Dean of the Abbey, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, told the packed congregation, that the coming together of the two faiths in “a common experience of worship” was “itself a sign of hope”.

As the service came to a close and the congregation slowly filed out of the abbey, Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, described how the service had indeed given him a sense of hope rather than despair.  Read more


 
Hereford Scroll returned

15th November 2013
 

A sefer Torah which had languished in the vaults of a Hereford museum for 80 years was paraded through the streets of the city on Shabbat as it was returned to the Herefordshire Jewish Community on semi-permanent loan.

The Liberal Judaism-affiliated community took possession of the scroll after repairs were conducted under the aegis of the Herefordshire Records Office with funding from local Jews and a grant from the NLPS Trust.

Following the parade, a Shabbat service was attended by 90 people, including civic and museum representatives, past and present Herefordshire members and congregants from the Gloucestershire community, whose Rabbi Anna Gerrard officiated.

The scroll was gifted to the museum in 1933 by Colonel Tudor Fitzjohn, a distinguished First World War veteran.

 
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.

 
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