Read the full Day of Celebration programme

20 April 2017 – 24 Nisan 5777

19 April 2017

The full thought-provoking, and action-inducing, programme for Liberal Judaism’s biggest event of 2017, the Day of Celebration, has been finalised. You can read it by clicking here.

The Day of Celebration takes place on Sunday June 11 at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue. The cost is £35 for adults and £15 for students and children. A family ticket (for two adults and up to three children) can be purchased for £70. Lunch is provided.

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Here, in a reprint of his article from the upcoming edition of LJ Today, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein explains the thinking behind the programme – which is themed around the question ‘Is Liberal Judaism Political Judaism?’

Sir Bernard Crick, the political theorist, once stated that “politics is ethics done in public” and sought a politics of action, rather than one that remained just an ideology.

Although he was not a Liberal Jew – indeed Crick was the vice president of the British Humanist Association – his approach to politics is one we share. Ours is a Judaism that believes in personal freedom and responsibility for the common bonds that unite us as a people and members of humanity; one that aims to place the ethics of the Israelite prophets alongside universal values to impact and improve the world we inhabit.

It is important that, as Liberal Jews, we contribute positively to politics and citizenship. I see my motivation for an action and its outcome, if not defined by, then given a range of shade by my religion. Yet I admit that there is a note of hypocrisy when I see it as reasonable for such involvement of ‘my’ religion in politics, but problematic when more ‘orthodox’ versions seek influence.

This will be just one of the questions being pondered through the Day of Celebration, which will take place just days after our members will have voted in a British general election.

Dr Laliv Clenman, senior lecturer in rabbinic literature at Leo Baeck College, will explore the role the ancient rabbis took with their Roman rulers and others. Rabbi Mark Solomon will look at how our rabbis acted in disputations when Christendom ruled, and sought to diminish Judaism, in medieval Spain. We will bring things up-to-date by investigating how Liberal Jewish congregations today are creating change around Britain, in partnership with Citizens UK, and consider how to advocate in Parliament with Carers UK.

Adam Sutcliffe, a lecturer at King’s College London and regular on BBC Radio 4, will be asking ‘What is a Jew for’ and looking at how we, as Liberal Jews, can be a light unto nations.

If you prefer to explore the politics of Israel, we will looks at the legacy of the 1967 Six Day War through the eyes of both those who celebrate the unification of Jerusalem and those who see its aftermath as the beginning of a negative spiral for Israeli society.

As you will see in the full schedule here, there will also be sessions looking at the economic politics of society in the UK via the Talmud, whether university is the new breeding ground for antisemitism, and how Jews can respond to Brexit, Donald Trump and, of course, whatever the result of the UK’s election is.

We will consider congregational politics including potential future trends. And, most importantly, we will ask whether each one of us is political: just in our being, being Jewish, by our gender and sexuality, explored discursively and through music, writing and prayer.

Oh, and to finish with a bit of name-dropping. You will hear from Lord (Alf) Dubs, Lord (Danny) Finkelstein, Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Gillian Merron and David Hirsh. You may even get to play the Rabbis Goldstein at ping pong and Frisbee during lunch! I look forward to welcoming you to Northwood.

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