13 April 2018
A ceremony believed to be Liberal Judaism’s first ever Upsherin took place in Hereford with the support of the Herefordshire Jewish Community.
Led by Rabbi Dr Robert Ash, friends and family of Alison and Marc Turner came together to cut the hair of their son Isaac for the first time, following his third birthday. The ceremony is known as Upsherin and until now has been practised only by some of by Britain’s Orthodox, particularly Charedi, communities.
Alison said: “We had the support of Liberal Judaism’s Rabbis Danny Rich and Aaron Goldstein in this, who in turn helped us find Rabbi Dr Robert Ash, minister of the Lancashire and Cumbria Liberal Jewish Community, to conduct the ceremony.
“All three rabbis commented that they had never heard of Liberals performing this before. As Archivist of Liberal Judaism, I have also not come across any other Liberal Jewish families carrying out this practice.
“Marc and I found the Upsherin a very meaningful way to mark Isaac’s transition from baby to toddler and to reiterate all our hopes and dreams for him.”
After the service, each person present could cut and keep a lock of Isaac’s hair. The family celebrated the occasion by collecting money for PJ Library – which sends Jewish children, including Isaac, free books each month – and the Little Princess Trust, which makes real hair wigs for children who have lost their own hair after cancer treatment or other illness.
Rabbi Dr Robert Ash said: “This Upsherin was a first in my career and the first I had ever heard of outside Charedi communities. Everyone I spoke to felt moved by the prayers and readings chosen by Alison and Marc.”
* Pick up the next issue of LJ Today for a full report from Alison about the day.
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