Yom Shlishi, 6 Tishri 5775
Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Liberal Judaism Chairman comments on counter-terrorism strategy

The JC
20th June 2014

Some family rows are worth having. After a stormy fortnight in Westminister, we should reflect that Michael Gove and Theresa May may in fact have done the British public a favour by surfacing a genuine tension in our approach to combating radicalisation and preventing terrorism.

The Jewish community in the UK can only benefit from a wake-up call and renewed debate on counter-terrorism strategy. Government, at the centre and locally, can only do so much. Citizens and communities need to be continuously vigilant. As the government's own Prevent Strategy states: "Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat of Al Qa'eda inspired terrorism is not."

In my 10 years as a senior civil servant serving under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and working directly to four Cabinet ministers, one issue dominated government concerns: the UK's resilience following 9/11 and the London 7/7 bomb attacks. As a member then of the National Criminal Justice Board, and chairing a cross-Whitehall communications directors group, my aim was to communicate the risk tothe public, so that citizens themselves, and by extension communities, took responsibility. Our message was be "alert" - not "alarmed".  Read more

Offering a third way for Judaism

The JC
May 16 2014

by Lucian J. Hudson, Chairman of Liberal Judaism

The growth of the Charedi and secular sections of our community identified by the recent JPR community survey has been much remarked upon. Much less noted has been growth by almost a third of those identifying as progressive.

These figures hide a huge "churn". Nevertheless, they demonstrate the ability of Liberal Judaism - in the words of a once famous beer advertisement - to reach the Jews other denominations cannot reach.

The trend is confirmed by the increase in the number of Liberal Jewish communities. In the past few weeks we have seen new Liberal communities established in Suffolk and York, bringing the total number to 40. Over 300 people attended our largest ever biennial conference last weekend. Membership numbers are up, engagement is growing and finances are robust.

But the impact of Liberal Judaism is not just about numbers.

Over the years, Progressive Judaism has broken numerous taboos, appointing the first women rabbis, the first openly LGBT rabbis, providing mixed-faith blessings and welcoming the children of such couples on an equal basis, regardless of the gender of the Jewish parent.

Why? Not to annoy more traditional sections of the community nor to modernise for modernity's sake, but because we believe Judaism must be about positive action, not bloodlines.  Read more

Liberals heed conference calls for progression

The JC
May 19 2014

Some people believe religion and politics should not mix. But Rabbi Jonah Pesner, senior-president of the Union of Reform Judaism in North America, is not among them.

His keynote speech to Liberal Judaism's biennial conference at the weekend was a stirring call to action. "To be a Progressive Jew is to put a stake in the ground for a political vision of a just society," he declared.

It was not enough to volunteer in soup kitchens or take part in Mitzvah Day, he argued. Progressive Jews should join other faith groups and work across party political lines to tackle injustice.

He hailed Liberal Judaism's achievement in being the first synagogue movement to pledge to pay a living wage and its involvement in the grassroots campaign group, Citizens UK.

His address, blending personal anecdote and prophetic passion, set the mood for the event, chiming with Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich's declaration that "social justice is the key component to messianic realisation".

But, along with the workshops, study groups and Shabbat worship, there was time to relax at the bar, if not enough for a round of golf at the Wokefield Park Hotel venue, near Reading.

"There is a mood of celebration here, a feeling that on a number of issues we are moving forward," said Robin Moss, 27, one of four under-35s on LJ's board of 13. There was, he added, "a self-confidence around the movement - a lack of apology. We are not 'not Orthodox' and not 'not Reform'. We use the traditions and Jewish historical experience, combining these with modern values to have an authentic form of Judaism that works for the 21st century."

There was a record attendance of more than 300 delegates.  Read more

Board of Deputies new chief executive revealed

May 7th 2014
The JC

The Board of Deputies has appointed former Labour minister Gillian Merron as its new chief executive.

Ms Merron, 55, who served as the MP for Lincoln for 13 years until she lost her seat in the 2010 election, joined the board of Liberal Judaism two years ago and was appointed a vice-president of the Jewish Leadership Council last year.

Her arrival in July will give the Board an experienced politician at its helm with an insider’s knowledge of government. She was a health minister in 2009-10, after previous roles as under-secretary in the Department of International Development and the Foreign Office.

She said: "It is an honour to have this opportunity to serve our community in such a key role. I am proud to be on my own Jewish journey, taking up the exciting challenge of working with the Board to defend and promote the interests of the Jewish community."  Read more

Biennial Programme Goes Live!

Biennial Conference 2014 is almost upon us and with less than a month to go we're delighted to present the full programme. The weekend is crammed with activities; with four opportunities to attend a range of exciting sessions, including a presentation from Jonah Pesner, Fania Oz and our very own Danny Rich and Lucian J. Hudson.  

This year we are not asking participants to sign up for sessions in advance. To wet your appetite, follow the link to see the full programme of events and start browsing your options. 

If you have not yet  booked your place at the Biennial it's not too late - we still have a few spaces available and you can sign up here.

We are also excited to be hosting a new LJY-Netzer weekend event on the same site, for all those aged 7-15 years. You can sign up for this event here.

For further information please contact Yael on  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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