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Human Rights Award Winner to Speak at South London Liberal Synagogue

Mickey Gitzin, the winner of the 2013 New Israel Fund Human Rights Award, will be speaking at South London Liberal Synagogue on Saturday September 20.

Mickey is one of the founders of Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel), an organisation which campaigns for religious pluralism within Israel, fights against religious coercion, works to prevent women’s exclusion from the public sphere and campaigns for the right to a civil marriage for all Israelis.

The event will begin at 6.30pm, with Mickey speaking and answering questions on the topic ‘change is possible’, while everyone enjoys a shared supper.

A service will follow at 7.30pm, with the community ceremonially changing their Torah Mantles to white in advance of the High Holy Days.

South London Liberal Synagogue’s Rabbi Janet Darley said: "It is an honour to have a New Israel Fund Human Rights Award winner address our community, especially as Mickey Gitzin and Israel Hofshit share so many of the values of Liberal Judaism and South London Liberal Synagogue.

"This is not only a wonderful opportunity to hear a fantastic speaker, but also a fitting introduction for the High Holy Days.

"We will also be enjoying a choral Selichot Service. Selichot takes its name from the prayers for forgiveness recited at this service which prepare us for the spiritual tasks of repentance and renewal and reintroduces us to the words and melodies of the High Holy Days."

For more information about the event, please contact Rabbi Janet Darley on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Rainbow Jews seeks funding to continue ground-breaking work

22nd August 2014

Liberal Judaism’s ground-breaking LGBT history project Rainbow Jews is looking to raise at least £5,000 via online crowdfunding to continue its great work.

During the last two years, this unique volunteer-led initiative has amassed more than 40 personal testimonies from British LGBT Jews; exploring the struggles, changes and issues experienced by the community from the 1950s to today.

The Rainbow Jews collection, including documents and a digitised oral history, is held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

An exhibition was also created and put on display at the London School of Economics and Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend earlier this year. The exhibition is now set to tour England, starting in Leicester on August 31 before moving on to Birmingham and Liverpool.

Rainbow Jews Project manager Surat Knan said: “We believe in community spirit and want to keep making a difference. This is why we are asking our friends and supporters to help us continue this legacy.

“We’ve had so much interest in the exhibition from all over the UK, youth groups want us to run sessions and new people have asked us to record their stories – but for all this we need funds.

“Please donate, so we can make sure that our history will not become our past.”

Donation can be made until 22 September via http://igg.me/at/rainbowjewslegacy or directly to Liberal Judaism.

 
Lucian talks about his favourite Jewish text for the Jewish News

Jewish News, August 7th 2014

Liberal Judaism's chairman, Lucian J. Hudson, selects the Numbers 20 and Deuteronomy 3 as the texts that mean the most to him in this commentary article for the Jewish News:

My favourite story is about God telling Moses he is never to reach the Promised Land. It can be found in Numbers 20 and Deuteronomy 3.

According to the former, Moses is being punished for his individual sin of striking the rock with his rod when instead he should have spoken to it, trusting the power of the word spoken in the name of God.

According to the latter, Moses is punished because, as his people’s leader, he suffers their fate, following the faithless majority in not entering Canaan. It is not obvious what the exact reasons are for God’s decision.

This is gripping drama, true to the human condition. Whatever we do, we can do only so much, and we reap what we sow.

After all that Moses has done, this is Israel’s leader receiving his (just) desserts. Even Moses is not exempt from God’s justice.

In a nutshell, we have Judaism and its questing and questioning dimensions starkly exposed. Moses pleads, but is told: “Enough!” But enough in one sense is “plenty”. That is as good as it gets for Moses.

These passages are eternally problematic and spiritually challenging. Accepting our just desserts is itself liberating. Desserts is “stressed” spelt backwards.

How apt for our society that becomes often unduly stressed.

Read more from the Jewish News Progressive Archive here.

 
Edinburgh D'var Torah inspires UK-wide Jewish Medical Appeal for Gaza

In a D’var Torah for Shabbat Massei, Saturday 26 July 2014, the chair of the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, Norman Crane, contrasted God as divine planner allotting parcels of land with God who teaches us to lead a good and purposeful life: “the Bible does not begin with the story of the Jews, but with the origins of humankind,” he said.

Although Israel “remains in the hearts of us Jews,” Norman deeply condemned and regretted the present actions of the State of Israel in Gaza. “Israel is part of our family, and we have to deal with Israel as we would a member of the family who has committed heinous crimes. Do we stop loving them because of those crimes? No. Rather we try to find ways of reproving and correcting them from inside the family fold and accept some of the guilt for ourselves.”

Norman called for Liberal Jews to widen our sphere of influence with regard to Israel, and moderate the arrogance which says that whatever Israel does is right. “There will be no change in Israel until the Jews of the world make it clear that there must be a moral change within Israel”, he said.

The D’var Torah was well received at the Shabbat morning service. In the week that followed Shabbat Massei, Norman addressed the community in the August issue of Lulav. “The crisis has deteriorated dramatically since my D'var Torah,” wrote Norman. Launching the community’s Kol Nidre appeal two months early, he announced Pikuach Nefesh: Jewish Medical Aid for Gaza to support the work of Physicians for Human Rights–Israel. The appeal is supported by the community’s rabbi, Mark Solomon, and by its council.

The Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community has been associated with Physicians for Human Rights–Israel since 2008, when support for PHR–Israel was recommended by Liberal Judaism. PHR-Israel are now delivering truckloads of medical aid to Gaza and report that the Gaza health system is on the brink of collapse.

The Community in Edinburgh invites all Jewish communities in the UK to contribute to saving lives in Gaza. They have enlisted the help of the New Israel Fund to send online donations made through this appeal direct to Physicians for Human Rights–Israel

To make your donation, click on Pikuach Nefesh: Jewish Medical Aid for Gaza.

 
Rainbow Jews comes to Leicester

8th August 2014

The Rainbow Jews Travelling Exhibition is coming to the Leicester LGBT Centre, 15 Wellington St, Leicester LE1 6HH, from August 31 to September 30.

Rainbow Jews is Liberal Judaism’s ground-breaking personal oral history archive, telling of the lives of older Jewish and LGBT people of all backgrounds. It is organised by Surat Knan and supported by Liberal Judaism, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sponsors.

A launch reception will take place on August 31, sponsored by Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation, the Leicester LGBT Centre, Liberal Judaism and individual donors.

Cakes, tea and Cava will be served the reception, which will take place from 4-6pm. The keynote speaker will be Cantor Gershon Silins of Liberal Judaism’s Outreach Team.

For exhibition opening hours, contact Dennis at the Leicester LGBT Centre on 0116 254 7412.

 
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