Yom Shlishi, 23 Tishri 5776
Simchat Torah Tuesday, 6 October 2015

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Liberal Jew elected as Board of Deputies’ treasurer

bofd_officersStuart Macdonald, a member of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, has been elected as treasurer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Stuart’s election victory means he joins new president Jonathan Arkush and vice presidents Richard Verber, Sheila Gewolb and Marie Van Der Zyl as the Board’s officers. The new team are pictured above, alongside Board chief of executive Gillian Merron.

Stuart was also re-elected as one of Liberal Judaism’s two Deputies to the Board, alongside LJY-Netzer movement worker and Kingston Liberal Synagogue member Gabriel Webber.

Stuart said: “The Board of Deputies is the primary public voice of the Jewish community in Britain. Its activities encompass areas as diverse as interfaith work, the defence of practice against outside interference, defence of the community against antisemitism, opposition (from a standpoint that supports a two state solution) to the campaign to delegitimise Israel by boycott and other means, the promotion of women and support for smaller communities.

“The voluntary Board of Deputies communal levy that appears on our annual synagogue subscriptions is not paid by all Liberal congregants.‎ Equally,‎ not every Liberal synagogue takes up its full rights to send representatives, or Deputies along. If we want to have appropriate influence within the Board, it is essential that both of these shortfalls should be corrected.”

He added: “My job as treasurer is to manage the Board's finances effectively at a challenging time for the community. I can only encourage you again: as individuals, make that voluntary communal levy contribution; as synagogues, send your full quota of representatives.‎”

Northwood parade new lightweight Sefer Torah

nortwood_scrollMore than 250 members of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS) paraded their new lightweight Sefer Torah through the streets, after a moving ceremony.

The service began with members of NPLS guiding the quill of sofer, Bernard Benarroch, as he completed the final words.

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein explained the moment, saying: "It was truly momentous as each of us - the young, the old, men and women - were given the opportunity to guide the scribe's hand in writing the final letters of the Torah, we were stirred by emotions. “It was not simply the physical act of writing but the spiritual dimension of what it means to complete a Torah that made this moment so special and emotional."

The community then danced and marched out into the streets of Northwood, heading to Green Lane car park where a tree had grown from a seed from a tree planted at Tereisenstadt Deportation Camp in 1943 by a courageous teacher and her pupils.

NPLS Emeritus Rabbi and President of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein reflected on the lives and tragic deaths of the Jews of Czech and Slovak towns that had once owned the scrolls now residing in Northwood.

He said: “We are the custodians of their scrolls and the legacy of the Jews who once read from them. Let us live, remember and treasure the confidence we have as Jews living in Northwood.”

The community then recited Kaddish together before returning to the synagogue to conclude the rituals in prayer and song, led by the members choir, a cappela group and numerous guitarists.

The importance of the new Sefer Torah being lightweight was highlighted by a recent batmitzvah girl who, when dancing with the scroll, stated: "I always knew this was my community and now I know that this is my scroll as I helped to pay for it and now I can actually carry it!”

Nottingham community launches first Jewish-Muslim drop-in kitchen

nottinghamNottingham Liberal Synagogue has teamed up with Muslim organisation Himmah to launch a weekly service providing hot meals and volunteer support for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

The Salaam Shalom Kitchen (SaSh) will run every Wednesday from 6-8pm with guest chefs from local restaurants, businesses and other groups.

It has a team around 40 volunteers who will help out anyone who wants to pop in, as well as those referred to by other services. It is open for access to anyone of all religions and none.

The joint Jewish-Muslim project is thought to be the only one of its kind in Britain.

Himmah co-founder Sajid Mohammed said SaSh was also about addressing other social issues, adding: "In the last 12 months we've seen a rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism.

"Nottingham for the most part has been quite sheltered but we felt that now is the right moment to give hope and demonstrate our communities' values of compassion, dignity and care to others."

Read more in the Nottingham Post -> http://www.nottinghampost.com/Muslim-Jewish-kitchen-opens-help-Nottingham-s/story-26543074-detail/story.html

Liberal Jewish Synagogue appoints two new rabbis

The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), Liberal Judaism’s largest and oldest community, has appointed two new rabbis.

Rabbis Rachel Benjamin and Rene Pfertzel have joined the rabbinic team at the LJS, which is led by Senior Rabbi Alexandra Wright.

They will both be working at the LJS part-time (50%) and will fill Rabbi Neil Janes' current role. He is leaving the LJS after three and a half years to take up a new post at the West London Synagogue.

Senior Rabbi Alexandra Wright said: “I am delighted to be welcoming Rabbi Rachel Benjamin and Rabbi Rabbi Pfertzel to work as part of our rabbinic, educational, musical and pastoral team at the LJS.

“They bring outstanding skills in teaching, working with people of all ages and spiritual leadership and I look forward to working with them for the good of a community that has so much to offer its members.

“I would also like to thank Rabbi Neil Janes, who has contributed immeasurably to the life of the LJS. We wish him well in his new post at West London Synagogue and hope to continue a good working relationship with our neighbouring community.”

Ipswich celebrates first bar mitzvah for 140 years
A barmitzvah celebration has taken place in Ipswich for the first time in 140 years.
On Saturday May 9, Jon Emlyn made a little piece of history by reading from the Torah in a special service held under the auspices of the Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community.
In the nineteenth century Ipswich had its own synagogue but the community began to move away in the 1850's and the synagogue was demolished in 1877. The Suffolk Jewish Community was formed by four people in 2005. It affiliated to Liberal Judaism in 2014.
The bar mitzvah boy's mother grew up in New York and his father is from Wales. Family members from both locations, and other local visitors, joined the community for the service.
Beverley Levy, one of the founding members of the community, said: “We don’t have our own premises and we don’t have a Sefer Torah. So we hired a small local theatre and borrowed a Torah from our good friends in the Colchester and District Jewish Community.
“There was a lovely atmosphere, we had lots of visitors and we hope it was a good showcase for Liberal Judaism. We look forward to more families coming to Suffolk and giving us other opportunities like this.”
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