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Letters: Same-sex marriage vote a momentous step towards equality

The Guardian
June 7th 2013

• Liberal Jews believe that all people were created in the image of God. Life has many challenges and love is the one warm harbour we can all hope to be anchored in. As a rabbi I am delighted with the peers' vote yesterday on equal marriage and am looking forward to celebrating the first fully Jewish and fully legal same-sex marriage under a Liberal Jewish marriage canopy.
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein
Liberal Judaism

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Liberal Rabbi Meets with Bombed Mosque Community

June 6th 2013

Finchley Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Rebecca Qassim Birk met today with the community of the Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, which was destroyed yesterday in an anti-Muslim attack. The meeting was hosted by New North London Synagogue’s Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, and was also attended by Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill United Synagogue. The rabbis offered support and solidarity to the Al-Rahma community.

Rabbi Birk spoke on behalf of everyone at Liberal Judaism, saying: “We are horrified and deeply saddened by the devastating attack on the  Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell hill. It was a despicable act of hatred and we the local Jewish community and Barnet residents stand with the Coppetts Road Muslim community in our sympathy, support and offers of practical help.”

Liberal Jews Greet Equal Marriage Vote with Elation

June 5 2013

Liberal Judaism has greeted last night’s House of Lords equal marriage vote with elation, after the motion to wreck the bill was defeated by a 242 majority.

Liberal Judaism was the first religious movement in the UK to publish official liturgy for same sex commitment ceremonies (2005), and has publicly fought for full equal marriage rights for years. Liberal rabbis hope that the peers’ vote yesterday will hasten the day when they can joyfully solemnise all marriages under Liberal Jewish auspices. The movement holds that a loving, monogamous relationship deserves to be sanctified and celebrated in front of family and friends, according to the tradition – religious or otherwise – of the couple in question.

Welcoming the vote, Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Aaron Goldstein said: “Liberal Jews believe that all people were created b’tselem Elohim – in the image of God. There are no exceptions to this rule. Life has many challenges and love is the one warm harbour we can all hope to be anchored in. We are now looking forward to celebrating the first fully legal and fully Jewish same sex marriage under a Liberal chuppah (Jewish marriage canopy).”

Rabbi Danny Rich to represent Liberal Judaism at Citizens UK summit

3rd June 2013

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism,will join Britain’s faith, education and third sector leaders at a civil society summit hosted by Citizens UK. The Planning Ahead for a Generation summit takes place on Wednesday 19th June at Queen Mary, University of London.

At the event, civil society leaders will discuss how their respective national networks can work together to address shared concerns, building towards a coordinated effort to influence the next General Election. They will also plan a new wave of social action for the next decade and beyond, using Community Organising – a process where communities are empowered to make positive change through working with others for the common good.

Rabbi Danny Richwill attend alongside leaders from Masorti Judaism and Reform Judaism, who together will help launch an ambitious strategy to influence the future of democracy and strengthen communities through Community Organising. The 3 movements are currently working together on a range of social action initiatives, including the joint employment of a Citizens UK Community Organiser working with Jewish communities and in the London Borough of Barnet. Citizens UK is Europe’s largest diverse and independent civic alliance, bringing together faith communities, schools and charities for social justice.

The summit builds on Liberal Judaism’s history of interfaith collaboration and pioneering social action. Working with Citizens UK, Liberal Judaism congregations have played a leading role in the Living Wage campaign, as well as working to tackle crime and isolation.

A diverse range of faith communities will be represented at the summit, including Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Salvation Army, Baptist, Pentecostal and independent churches, as well as the Muslim Council of Britain, schools, universities and charities.

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism said:

“Our partnership with Citizens UKis an expression of Liberal Judaism’s prophetic mission and commitment to social action. We are already using Community Organising to strengthen our congregations and campaign on a range of issues. This summit is a great opportunity to meet with leaders from other faiths and enhance the work do together to build a fairer society.”

Neil Jameson, Executive Director of Citizens UK said:

“This summit brings together some of the most significant national leaders from faith, education and civic institutions to strengthen civil society and our democracy for generations to come. We are delighted to support Liberal Judaism in working alongside other faiths for social justice.”

Liberal Rabbis Respond to Woolwich Attack

May 29th 2013

Liberal rabbis have been responding to the horrendous attack in Woolwich in which a young soldier was brutally murdered. Liberal Judaism’s chief executive, Rabbi Danny Rich has released a statement in support of the Hope Not Hate campaign, calling for unity among the faiths in the face of the attack:

"An horrific attack like that which occurred in Woolwich yesterday reminds us that the teachings of the major faiths - Judaism and Islam among them - include the one that every person is created in the image of God. There is no basis in either Jewish scripture or the Qu'ran for the murder of unarmed people, and anybody with good intent who understands these traditions will condemn the attack without reservations. Rather than being used as an opportunity to divide people and stir up islamophobia, the attack should be a call to unite all decent people of all faiths and none. The activities of the EDL, BNP and others reflect neither British values nor religious ones."

Meanwhile, Rabbis Aaron Goldstein, Richard Jacobi and Dr Margaret Jacobi all devoted their Shabbat sermons to the attack, and Rabbi Alexandra Wright wrote an open letter to the attackers, telling them:

“If you did this in the name of Islam and the Islamic God - Allah - then you have committed a heinous sin against the same God worshipped by Jews, Christians and other believers. If you did this in the name of your Muslim brothers and sisters, then you are guilty of a grotesque and treacherous crime against your own co-religionists.”

Liberal Judaism is committed to establishing and maintaining peace and friendship between the different faith communities of the UK. Please click here for more information.

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