Yom Shlishi, 19 Kislev 5776
Tuesday, 1 December 2015

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LJ's senior rabbi tells BBC Radio why Britain must accept more refugees

7th September 2015

Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, has been on BBC Radio over the last few days urging the British Government to accept 20,000 refugees.

Speaking on the BBC World Service this morning, Danny said: “If you’re facing an emergency, then I believe the goodwill, skills and resources of Britain will find a way through.

“It does require a real effort from David Cameron and his Cabinet, local authorities and all of us as individuals. I am appealing particularly, as a faith leader, to the faith communities, who have been working hard to make this a practical reality rather than simply a statement.”

He added: “What we know is that very many migrants, indeed the overwhelming majority of them, prove to be excellent citizens who make great contributions to the cultural and economic wellbeing of society.”

Danny also spoke to Radio Five Live yesterday, appearing alongside former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Taking on the arguments of those who wish to limit the number of refugees coming to Britain and Europe, Danny replied: “The fact is there are people arriving on the European continent, who are desperate.

“Children are drowning in the sea, people are dying in lorries. If you put your children on a dingy when you know that many of these are lost at sea, then you must be pretty desperate.

“I accept there needs to be proper planning and that there is pressure put on schools, housing and the medical services – but I don’t think we can continue to simply say that this is not our problem.

“Liberal Judaism and Citizens UK have been calling for a minimum of 20,000 refugees. I accept that we can’t do everything, but we do need to do an appropriate share.”

In the two interviews, Danny also spoke about the response needed from the international community, ideas for tackling people smuggling and how Jews, Muslims and Christians working together to help refugees integrate.

You can listen to the interviews in full at the links below:

BBC Radio Five Live (from 2 hours 19 minuets) -> http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b068hh58#play

BBC World Service Radio (from 30 minutes) -> http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03183z3


Meet the new faces at Liberal Judaism

7th September 2015

Three new staff members have joined Liberal Judaism’s head office, providing support to 40 communities and 10,000 members around the country.

Alexandra Simonon ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is Liberal Judaism’s new lifecycle administrator, helping with enquiries on weddings, births, bar/batmitzvah, conversions, funerals and any other lifecycle questions.

Alexandra is a member of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue and a student on LJ's Ba'alei Tefillah lay leadership programme, from which she will graduate in 2016.

She says: “I'm passionate about Liberal Judaism because it is both open and compassionate on the one hand, and intellectually inquisitive on the other. I'm particularly interested in lifecycle issues, because they can be at the core of people's spiritual lives. Sometimes they are joyful occasions and sometimes they are difficult and challenging times. It's an honour to be able to support people and accompany them, even if it's just by being a friendly and helpful voice on the phone.”

Sophie Gainsley ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is the new receptionist at the Montagu Centre, Liberal Judaism’s London headquarters.

Sophie is an illustrator and environmental campaigner, who has worked for a number of charities, museums and art galleries.

Sophie says: “I didn’t meet any other Jewish people, outside of my family, until I was 17. Working for Liberal Judaism has now given me the chance to be surrounded by people who share my cultural roots. I have a lot to learn about our heritage, culture and religion and can’t wait to get more involved.”

Aaron Abraham ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich's new executive assistant.

With a background in film & TV production, communications and PR - Aaron has previously worked with the BBC, Channel 4, RDF Media, HBO, Mother and J Walter Thompson. He has also recently been supporting The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group with their communications.

Aaron said: "I'm really excited about bringing my skills and experience to Liberal Judaism. I've been a part of the LJ community for a couple of years now, and have been lucky to have found so much love and friendship here. It's really exciting for me to be working in Liberal Judaism now, and have the opportunity to give something back."

L-R: Aaron, Sophie & Alexandra

Shanah Tova from Liberal Judaism

September 2015

Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism's senior rabbi and chief executive

The month of Elul and the coming Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days) are a time of reflection for Jews – demanding not only personal introspection, but requiring an examination of collective neglect.

The image of a drowned child washed up on a beach in Europe is simply the latest stark reminder of the tragedy which Syria’s neighbours, particularly Jordan and Lebanon, have been dealing with for a number of years.

A year ago, with the Conservative leader of Kingston Council, I called for each British local authority to offer sanctuary to 50 Syrian refugees so that Britain might lead the world in this moral endeavour.

The challenge of migration is, of course a local, European and international one but, despite British efforts in the region itself, there is no excuse for not making a generous and dramatic offer of sanctuary now.

History teaches us the cost to innocent men, women and children when countries and international partners delay in the face of an emergency, and the Jewish community is particularly sensitive to the fate of those who appear abandoned by the world community.

On Yom Kippur afternoon Liberal Synagogues will hear this verse (Leviticus 19:16): “You shall not stand by idle when your neighbour’s blood is being shed.”

Will we be part of the generation who stands by idly or shall we ‘pursue justice’ for the most vulnerable?


Simon Benscher, Liberal Judaism's chair

As we speed swiftly towards the High Holy Days, I wonder if during our hours of communal spiritual refreshment we could give some consideration to the near 40 chairs of our Liberal congregations who would have probably spent days preparing what, for many of them, is the most important speech of their year.

For some, including me, to stand on the bimah in front of fellow congregants and friends is a daunting experience, while for others public speaking doesn’t cause even the slightest concern. But the one thing they all have in common is a desire to give a heartfelt and passionate appeal, not just for money to be donated to worthy and deserving charities, but also for everyone to give more of themselves.

For the vast majority of our communities the day to day functions and maintenance falls on the shoulders of a small number of willing helpers. In my experience, all of these volunteers are busy, hardworking people with either full time commitments to their work or their families, or possibly even both. None the less, they still find the capacity in their busy lives to work for their extended family.

Ask any of these unsung heroes “why do you give yourself this extra burden” and I’m reasonably sure in most cases they won’t be able to give you a definitive answer. Our commitment to our communal Jewish homes is, for many of us, part of our DNA. It can’t be defined or labelled, but it gives the individual as much in the way of fulfilment, as they hope it gives to their congregation.

Where would we be without these stalwart members - organising and supporting without (much) complaint or expectation of praise? The answers are easy. Liberal Judaism wouldn’t be where it is today at the forefront of Progressive Jewish life. Our inspirational Rabbis would not be able to lead us through our Jewish journeys. The Board of National Officers would have little value.

This year when you hear the annual appeal maybe, just maybe, make the commitment to play your part in the future of Liberal Judaism in the UK.

L'shanah tovah!

Refugee Crisis: How you can help

7th September 2015

The pictures and news of the last few days have shocked the world and left many asking “what can I do to support those refugees who need urgent help?”

A million Syrian children are languishing in refugee camps. Thousands of people have died. We are facing Europe’s greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Liberal Judaism has teamed up with a number of partner organisations to suggest practical ways you can help, from displaying your support to donating money to finding homes for refugee families.

Below are details and links that you can use right away to play your part in resolving this humanitarian crisis.

Citizens UK – Citizens UK and Liberal Judaism have been campaigning for the last year to get local authorities to pledge to resettle just 50 refugees each.

Many councils are willing, but they need our help to find appropriate homes for families in the private rented sector. Our organisations want to see 10,000 refugees resettled here each year for at least the next two years. That's likely to mean 5,000 homes need to be found for families over the two year period. Therefore we desperately need landlords to join the Homes for Resettled Refugees Register, and everyone to try and find landlords and letting agents in their area who might help, and get them to sign up.

 Sign the Register -> http://www.citizensuk.org/help_find_homes_for_syrian_refugees

Citizens UK local organising guide -> http://www.citizensuk.org/resettlement_campaign_local_organising_guide

World Jewish Relief – World Jewish Relief has launched its Refugee Crisis Appeal. As the Jewish community’s response to international disasters, WJR are once more appealing for our community’s generous support.

World Jewish Relief was instrumental in the Kindertransport – supporting desperate Jewish refugees from the Nazis. With 80 years experience, the charity is well placed to assist those in dire need.  World Jewish Relief will begin a humanitarian operation providing food, shelter, medicine and hygiene kits to refugees in Turkey, Bulgaria or Greece who are fleeing war and persecution.

Donate to WJR now -> https://www.worldjewishrelief.org/ways-to-give/appeals/refugee-crisis/donate-step-1/

Tzelem – Tzelem is the UK's cross-communal rabbinic call for social and economic justice.

Liberal Judaism and all branches of Judaism are working with Tzelem on a strategic, long-term response to the current crisis, which we will post details about soon.  We are also asking communities to place a banner stating ‘Refugees are Welcome’ outside, or if this is not possible then inside, their buildings and synagogues – posting the the photos on Twitter or Facebook

Get your banner -> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1odNtTtecfpPLPWNqiNust8yo4iSpXvifqaEBshN5eTA/edit

Solidarity with Refugees March – Supported by Syria Solidarity Movement, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action and Amnesty International, this march will at Marble Arch on September 12.

The aim is to show support for positive change ahead of a key conference on September 14, when British Home Secretary Theresa May will be attending a meeting of the EU's 28 member states for emergency talks.  The march will help ensure that the Home Secretary takes with her the conviction that the British people that she represents are open to helping refugees and that we can’t continue to allow thousands to die trying to reach the EU.

Join the march -> https://www.facebook.com/events/1047978998546751/

UK Government Petition – More than 400,000 people, including many Liberal Judaism rabbis, leaders and members, have signed the petition asking the Government to accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK.

The more people who sign, the more impact we can have and the more chance there is of the Government taking real action.

Sign the petition -> https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991/

Liberal Rabbis join Syrian refugee on BBC News

4th September 2015

Rabbis Harry Jacobi and Danny Rich were interviewed for BBC News today alongside inspirational Syrian refugee Milad.

Liberal Judaism Chief Executive Danny called on the UK to take a minimum of 20,000 more refugees, while Harry told how he himself was a refugee to Britian - fleeing the Nazis.

Full story and broadcast date to follow...




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