Yom Shishi, 8 AdarI 5775
Friday, 27 February 2015

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Syrian refugee crisis unites Jews and Muslims in plea for Britain to do more

The Daily Mirror, 27th September 2014

Jews and Muslims have formed an unlikely alliance to press for Britain to accept hundreds of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war.

More than 140,000 Syrians fled to Turkey last week as they faced the triple threat of being targeted by President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, murdered by ISIS terrorists or being caught in US-led bombing raids against Islamic extremists.

British-based faith leaders will use next week’s Jewish festival of Sukkot – when temporary shelters are built to remember how Jews fled persecution - to call for the UK to offer shelter to refugees from the war-torn country.

Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said: “The main ritual of Sukkot is that we spend time in a temporary dwelling place. It is a tradition to welcome visitors into that temporary dwelling.

“That has gone on for a couple of thousand years.

“There are thousands of refugees from Syria living in temporary conditions because they can’t live anywhere else because their homes have been destroyed.

Read more here.

Join the Liberal Judaism Midlands Shabbaton

Liberal Judaism’s Midlands Shabbaton will take place on Saturday November 15 from 10am-5pm at Leicester University

A musical and soulful service, will followed by a range of discussions and activities.

The cost is £20 for adults and £5 for school age children. Pre-schoolers are free.

To book your place, please click here.  To find out more, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Rose-tinted Liberals

The JC
23rd September 2014

Liberal Judaism's outreach to small communities includes High Holy Day services for the first time in both York and Lancaster this year. White and red roses are not going to be handed out to worshippers.

A New Year message from Liberal Judaism

29 Elul 5774 / 24th September 2014

Some years end with nostalgia for much good it brought us; some years begin with confidence and excitement for events to come. Sometimes it is not like that.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah 5775, we recall increasing horror as brutality and chaos engulfed several countries in the Middle East; chaos that threatens to afflict the Western World. We recall attacks on the State of Israel and the war against the perpetrators that brought so much suffering to so many. We witnessed a rise in antisemitism that gives us great cause for concern. And so we approach the New Year with many anxieties.

Yet we might also recall a glorious summer and many achievements in this country and Israel. Liberal Judaism recorded success with new communities joining us and an exciting Biennial Conference and other gatherings. Two books were published revealing the interesting life and inspirational teaching of our key founder Rabbi Dr Israel I Mattuck. We have many reasons for satisfaction in the year past and cause for confidence in the future.

In our Machzor Ruach Chadashah (p82) is a traditional Sephardi blessing for the New Year by the 16th century Abraham Hazzan - may it be the blessing for ourselves, our movement, our people and our world: "May the year and its sorrows end now together. May the new year and its blessing now begin."

From Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein (President), Lucian J Hudson (Chairman), Rabbi Danny Rich (Chief Executive) and Rabbi Charley Baginsky (Chair of Rabbinic Conference)

Introducing Liberal Judaism’s month of giving

23rd September 2014

Rabbi Pete Tobias launches Liberal Judaism’s month of giving, by asking what would Maimonides do…

If Facebook had been around in 12th Century Spain, Jewish philosopher Maimonides would have been appalled at the spate of video clips posted there, depicting individuals being doused by buckets of ice cold water.

These drenched people were responding to challenges made by their ‘friends’ to be soaked, in order to raise awareness of the disease Amotryphic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and subsequently to donate to a charity supporting research into it.

It wouldn’t just be the gratuitous waste of a vital resource that would trouble this Jewish sage. His concern would be that these acts, displayed for the entire world to see, purported to be for a charitable cause.

Chances are that Maimonides wouldn’t know what ALS stood for, though as a physician, he would no doubt have applauded efforts to raise awareness about it and encourage research into it. But as a means of raising charitable funds, the Ice Bucket Challenge would have come fairly low down his list of eight degrees of charity.

That list – which can be read at www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Levels_of_Giving.html - offers different ways of giving charity. These range from the lowest level, where donations are given begrudgingly, via different stages relating to the identity of the donor and recipient, up to the highest level, where one anonymously offers support to a person before they become needy by providing resources to enable them to become self-sufficient.

The lack of anonymity, which could be regarded as self-promotion, would, for Maimonides, have undermined any charitable intent of those accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge. Indeed a significant percentage of those seen dousing themselves on Facebook did not even make a donation to ALS.

However he would have been relieved, and his faith in humanity restored, when he checked his Twitter account, to receive a tweet challenging him to ‘quietly set up a monthly direct debit to a charitable cause’.

Pete Tobias is rabbi at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree

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