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Shavuot Monday, 25 May 2015
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Liberal Judaism Chair tells PM “Diversity of our communities is our strength”

2nd March 2015

Lucian Hudson, Chair of Liberal Judaism, joined a delegation of leaders from community group, Citizens UK - of which Liberal Judaism in an active member – to hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron last week (Thursday 26 February)

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Hudson, who was present in his capacity as Chair of the Milton Keynes Leadership Group of Citizens UK where he works as Director of Communication for the Open University, said:

“The real strength of Citizens UK's work with faith communities is that the organisation engages not solely with the aim of interfaith dialogue - which can often involve the same individuals and groups talking to each other - but to drive social action.

“As a result, faith communities are drawn to lobby ‘side by side’ to achieve common goals as in this case. Over time, diverse groups that might not otherwise ever encounter one another begin to identify shared values and beliefs.  This in turn becomes a source of strength and a means of enhancing social cohesion.”

Hudson also praised the Prime Minister’s work in setting up the Holocaust Commission last year to identify the best ways to commemorate and educate about the events of seventy years ago.  He told David Cameron:

“I congratulate you on your commitment to Holocaust education.  In particular, I welcome your acceptance of, and financial support for, the Commission’s recommendations to establish a new National Memorial and world-class Learning Centre to commemorate and educate about the Holocaust.

The Chair of Trustees, Jewish Leadership Council, Mick Davis, led the Holocaust Commission, which was tasked with establishing what more Britain must do to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved and that the lessons it teaches are never forgotten.

Lucian Hudson was a member of a two-dozen strong delegation from Citizens UK, which met with the Prime Minister to discuss a range of issues of concern to the social action organisation, which has been at the forefront of promoting the Living Wage.

Liberal Judaism was the first synagogal movement in the UK to receive official accreditation as a Living Wage employer and its communities, rabbis and members frequently lobby Government and others to pay a Living Wage.  In 2014, Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich, of Nottingham Liberal Synagogue led a Citizens’ team in successful negotiations with Nottingham City Council, which saw the council become a Living Wage employer.

 
Keynote speakers announced for Day of Celebration

25th February 2015

By Rabbi Charley Baginsky (chair of the Day of Celebration committee)

Liberal Judaism’s Day of Celebration, our movement’s key event of 2015, will be held in central London at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue on Sunday June 7.

Based around the theme of Israel, Liberal Judaism is proud to announce four keynote speakers.

The first is Rabbi Miri Gold. It is a real privilege for Liberal Judaism to play host to such a prestigious guest. Rabbi Miri Gold really represents the close relationship between the Diasporic Progressive world and the Israeli one. Her presence at the event is a wonderful model of the potential significance of this relationship. Rabbi Gold, who serves Kibbutz Gezer, is the first non-Orthodox rabbi in Israel to have her salary paid by the government after a long, and ultimately successful, legal battle.

The second Progressive rabbi to join us will be long term friend of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Ofek Meir. As well as being the shliach (emissary) to Liberal Judaism in the 1990s, Ofek is currently the rabbi of Leo Baeck Education Centre.

Ofek was also responsible for founding and directing the work of the Lokey International Academy of Jewish Studies until 2006 and he is an inspirational teacher, rabbi and musician.

In addition we will be joined a senior Israeli VIP and Reut Michaeli, the Chief Executive of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants in Israel.

All four guest speakers promise to ensure that the Day of Celebration will be an inspiring and creative event, which will challenge us to develop our unique Liberal Jewish relationship with Israel.

There will also be a fantastic array of sessions suitable for a mix of knowledge and interest. Some will be text based and others rooted in creative media, such as music, dance and food. Topics will include how the Israeli media portrays Europe, Israel after the elections, Israelis in LJ communities and details of projects that you can get involved in. Sessions will also be suitable for those in school years 8 and above.

No Liberal Jewish event would be complete without a full programme run by LJY-Netzer for those in years 1 to 7 – mirroring the main conference – and a professionally run crèche.

Finally, the day gives the chance to meet people from other communities and feel part of a national movement. Adult tickets are priced at £25, with children’s at £12. Family tickets are available for up two adults and up to four children at £50. You can book by visiting www.tinyurl.com/LJDOC2015

 
Liberal Judaism joins prestigious research and documentary film project

February 25th 2014

Liberal Judaism is proud to be part of Ritual Reconstructed - a collaborative project which involves working with London-based Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities to explore faith rituals which combine both Jewish and LGBTQI identities.

The project is a collaboration between Liberal Judaism/Rainbow Jews, Buckinghamshire New University, Coventry University and the University of Portsmouth. Funding has been awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Ritual Reconstructed will use film, performance, installation and storytelling to look at the ways in which Jewish people who identify as LGBTQI engage in religious and community life.

Ritual Reconstructed are interested in finding out how being LGBTQI has influenced, shaped or changed Jewish faith rituals and how our Jewish selves have influenced LGBTQI rituals. Anyone who is over 18 and identifies as Jewish and LGBTQI or an ally can get involved. To take part, please email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Twilight People and Rainbow Jews project manager Surat Shaan Knan, who is a key organiser for Ritual Reconstructed, told the Jewish News: “The Ritual Reconstructed project follows on from Rainbow Jews exploring how LGBTQI Jews today feel about their community, how we express our intersecting identities, and how we can work towards greater equality and inclusion.

“We do great things, but it’s always better when many Jews do them together. So, I hope many LGBTQI Jews and allies will join us – we have some really exciting activities lined up!”

To read the full Jewish News article, go to http://www.jewishnews.co.uk/ritual-reconstructed-exploring-lgbtqi-faith-rituals/

 
A statement from Rabbi Danny Rich following the attacks in Copenhagen

16th February 2015

It is with both sadness and a sense of outrage that we received the news of the murderous attacks on a cultural centre and the Orthodox Jewish Community of Copenhagen.

As in the case of the recent Paris atrocity, the perpetrators of this violence sought both to close down discussions about freedom of expression and inflict a grievous wound on the local Jewish community.

Liberal Judaism is proud to employ Rabbi Sandra Kviat – the first Danish-born Progressive Rabbi – as Education Director. Rabbi Kviat has close links with her home community “Shir Hatzafon”, the Liberal Jewish Community of Copenhagen.  We are in touch with its leadership who are in turn working with the local Orthodox Community to ensure the safety of Jewish people in Copenhagen.

Our horror does not minimise our commitment to the value of free speech (even when we do not always like its results) and neither will we retreat from efforts to create good communal relations and a decent society in Europe. As we have said and will continue to say, the best response to closed minds is open doors.

 
Bury St Edmunds hosts Holocaust Memorial Day Service

27th January 2015
Bury Free Press

A poignant reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and other past genocides was unveiled in Bury St Edmunds today.

Crowds gathered in the Abbey Gardens for the town’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day Service which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and marked 21 years since the Rwandan Genocide and 20 years since Bosnia’s Srebrenica Massacre.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, sub-dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “Here in peaceful Bury St Edmunds these appalling events can seem like a world away. So it’s our responsibility to use our imagination and to make that connection because all humanity is connected and we are all affected by these events.”

The new Peace Garden, formally opened today by Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, provided a dignified setting for the service and will, it is hoped, help ‘keep the memory alive’ - the theme of this year’s service.

A stainless steel teardrop sculpture stands a metre and a half tall at the centre of the garden, surrounded by 57 cobble stones - one for each of the 57 Jews murdered in Bury on Palm Sunday in 1190 - and two benches to allow visitors a place for quiet reflection.

Rabbi Rich said the garden represented ‘the triumph of hope’ and ‘the possibility that hate can be overcome by goodwill, love and appreciation that it is one creator who created every human being and that every human soul - whether Jew or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Sikh or of no faith - is as valuable as the next one’.

Addressing the many school children at the service, he said: “It’s important that we remind ourselves of those memories because the one thing we hope that you children will learn from history is to do better than we’ve done, that your generation and those who come after you will learn from the mistakes that previous generations have made and will create the type of world in which, ironically, a peace garden won’t be needed.”  Read more

 
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