Yom Rivii, 13 AdarI 5775
Ta anith Esther Wednesday, 4 March 2015

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Statement from Jewish community leaders on the situation in Israel and Gaza

We the undersigned representatives of different denominations within the British Jewish community make the following statement on the current situation in Israel and Gaza:

"In these painful times we regret the loss of all innocent life. Our thoughts are with all those who grieve and we fervently pray that we soon see a just and lasting peace for all in the region."

Rabbi Danny Rich
(Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism)

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
(Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism)

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
(Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism)

Lucian Hudson
(Chair, Liberal Judaism)

Clive Sheldon QC, Nick Gendler
(Co-Chairs, Masorti Judaism)

Robert Weiner
(Chair, Movement for Reform Judaism)

David Dangoor
(Chair, Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation)

Day of Celebration 2015 date announced

Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration 2015 will be held on Sunday June 7 in London.

In the years when Liberal Judaism does not hold a Biennial Conference, we use the opportunity to come together to celebrate the best of our movement and its communities in a day-long showcase.

As the Day of Celebration 2013 was held in Birmingham, the 2015 event will be hosted by one of Liberal Judaism’s London communities. The venue will be announced shortly.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, chair of the organising committee, said: “We’re really excited to begin planning this event, inspired and charged by the energy of the Biennial just gone.

“We are looking to create a day that will continue to celebrate the achievements and future development of Liberal Judaism. So please put Sunday June 7, 2015, in your diaries!”

Further details on the Day of Celebration will appear in the next edition of lj today.

Rabbi Janet leads Living Wage protest

living_wage_whitehallOn Monday July 21 at 8am, cleaners of government departments (supported by Citizens UK) joined Rabbi Janet Darley and more than 100 supporters to protest along Whitehall and launch the Living Wage League Table. 

 The focus of the protest was those Government departments and associated Ministers paying poverty wages and languishing at the bottom of the Whitehall Living Wage League Table.

South London Liberal Synagogue’s Rabbi Janet Darley, a team from Liberal Judaism and the government cleaners ‘cleaned up’ outside the worst offending departments armed with mops, brooms and dusters. Rabbi Janet, Father Simon Cuff and Mohammed, a cleaner at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, then delivered a letter and wooden spoon to DEFRA, the department at the bottom of the league table.

A winners cup was awarded to Ed Davey MP at the Department for Energy & Climate Change, for being the latest department to commit to becoming a Living Wage employer.

The Whitehall Living Wage League Table, launched by Citizens UK, reveals the hourly rates that cleaners are currently paid in each Government department, as well as announcing which ministers have already met with this crucial target of becoming Living Wage employers.

While some departments now pay the London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour, others are far behind on the minimum wage of £6.31.

Rabbi Janet said: “They told me it was difficult because cleaners are outsourced. I responded that with Lambeth Citizens, South London Liberal Synagogue has made sure that Lambeth Council's outsourced cleaners are paid a Living Wage.

“This is a Jewish value - a full day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That is why Liberal Judaism have committed to the Living Wage, the first of all synagogal movements to do so".

Mohammed, who earns £6.31 per hour, added: “I’ve been working in Whitehall for 13 years. I work from 7.30am to 8.30pm and I’m a father to three young children so I have to pay childcare costs.

“Every year the cost of food, council tax, utility bills and a bus pass goes up, but my pay hardly changes. I currently receive £6.31 per hour, which is not enough. There is nothing left at the end of the month. There’s no time to cook when I get home, my whole life is work.”

For more information, visit http://www.livingwage.org.uk/

Why I fasted for peace in the Middle East

By Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi
The Guardian, 16th July 2014

Like many people – Jews and non-Jews alike – I have been watching the events in Israel and Gaza unfold with horror. I am shocked at the deaths of so many Palestinians. At the same time, I feel for Israelis who are living in fear, with continual shelling. How can one respond in the face of all the complexities?

So when I received an email from Yachad, a British Jewish organisation that campaigns for peace through a two-state solution, about a worldwide fast to mourn the loss of life and express our hope for peace, it felt like the right thing to do. I had already been contemplating fasting. Along with other faith leaders, I was invited last night to an Iftar, the breaking of the day’s Ramadan fast, at Birmingham Central Mosque. It would have felt wrong to be breaking a fast without fasting.

At the same time, it is the Jewish Fast of Tammuz, the beginning of a three-week period of mourning for the siege of Jerusalem in the year 70. As a Progressive Jew I do not normally keep the fast, but yesterday there was ample cause for mourning: the loss of life, the suffering and the seemingly intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine. In joining a fast with the message of “Hungry for Peace” with hundreds of Jews and Muslims in this country, and across the world, we hope we sent the message that we yearn for peace and we mourn the loss of the life of every human being – Jew or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian.  Read more


Rabbi Danny Rich responds to Geoffrey Alderman

From the letters page of the JC
10th July 2014

Dear Editor

Geoffrey Alderman (‘Shift from fads and whims’) correctly identifies that Liberal Judaism considers “righteousness in action” to be of more importance than matters of ritual, but goes on to quote highly selectively from me -and indeed (Reform) Rabbi Romain - to claim that Liberal Judaism is merely concerned with the “public mood” and “the times”.

Judaism has never stood still. Its history is one of continuity and change, and its genius is its capacity to take account of the people’s needs and to respond to change in knowledge and circumstances.  All strands of Judaism show evidence of constant development in belief and practice whether described as the ‘Oral Law’, the decisions of the sages, or something else.

Further, Alderman implies that the Liberal Jewish prioritization of the injunction ‘to seek’ justice is at odds with tradition and ritual.  The founders of Liberal Judaism sought to ensure that practice accorded with conscience and intelligence, and, if Liberal Jews are ‘becoming more traditional’, they are not doing so at the expense of Liberal Jewish leadership in, for example, matters of public policy including fair pay and quality training for those who care for the most vulnerable in our society and equal marriage.

It is the strength of Liberal Judaism that it confronts the challenges of our time, and, whilst valuing truth above tradition and human needs above legal technicalities, also encourages its adherents to sanctify their lives with the habit of study, the discipline of prayer and the performance of rituals of beauty and meaning.  It rejects cruel and discriminatory traditional practices of which mamzerut is one.

The belief that every person - man and woman, Jew and Muslim and, yes, straight and gay - is created in God’s image is not merely a reflection of the current public mood but a restatement of the core values of Judaism itself.

Rabbi Danny Rich
Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism

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