Eight reasons to attend the Liberal Judaism Biennial

3 May 2018

The Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend is now just eight weeks away. Our movement’s flagship event takes place from Friday June 29 – Sunday July 1 at the St Johns Hotel, just outside of Birmingham, and promises something for everyone.

Here are eight reasons why you should join us – one for every week we have to go until this incredible weekend.

1) Shape our new Siddur
We are currently working on the first new Liberal Jewish Siddur since 1995. At the Biennial you will get to take part in a Shabbat morning service with hundreds of other Liberal Jews, taken from the draft pages of this new prayer book. Afterwards there will be a feedback session where you can talk about your experiences and help shape what the final liturgy will look and sound like.

2) Watch Liberal legends go head to head
Liberal Judaism president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein and The Liberal Jewish Synagogue’s rabbi emeritus Rabbis Dr David Goldberg OBE are both renowned spiritual leaders and authors, but have very different views on the direction in which our movement should travel. Join them for a heated but vital debate, where they will consider whether it is time for Liberal Judaism to once again strike out beyond the boundaries or whether we should instead consolidate our position as a recognised branch of Anglo-Jewry.

3) Get tech tips
From live streaming to cutting edge campaigns, advances in technology are something that we have seen benefit our communities and movement. So for the first time at a Biennial Weekend, we will have a track entirely dedicated to technology. And with sessions including ‘making hashtags count’, ‘Skyping the rabbi’ and ‘from the lightbulb to the launch’, it’s sure to be full of useful tips and advice.

4) Two keynotes for the price of one
What can be better than one fantastic keynote speaker? Two of them! Come to the Biennial Weekend and you will hear from both Rabbi Danny Freelander, the president of the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), and Board of Deputies chief executive Gillian Merron. Danny will lay down a challenge for us to become truly progressive in our Judaism and continue to innovate, while Gillian will discuss contemporary issues facing Jews in Britain including the disturbing rise in antisemitism. There will also be a chance to ask questions and debate what you’ve heard.

5) Enjoy the Biennial as a family
The Biennial is not just for adults. There will be a fully staffed crèche for children under six, while our youth movement LJY-Netzer will run a parallel programme for those between six and 15 featuring classic sessions and games, as well as presenters from the main Biennial. A special programme for teenagers will also see them attend relevant parts of the main conference, with bespoke discussions afterwards. And, in our great Biennial tradition, our youngest members will lead some parts of the weekend including the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat.

6) Hear the sounds of Liberal Judaism
Liberal Jewish music has had a renaissance in recent years and you can enjoy sessions from some of those responsible for it including Cantor Gershon Silins and Dean Staker, as well as Liberal Judaism’s newest voice Cantor Tamara Wolfson. As a bonus treat for your ears, all sessions in our dedicated music track will be accompanied by Liberal Judaism’s resident pianist Franklyn Gellnick.

7) We have the whole hotel
One of the unique aspects of the Biennial Weekend, compared to many other conferences, is that Liberal Judaism is able to book the entire St Johns Hotel. It makes for a special atmosphere where everyone you bump into will be a fellow Liberal Jew and sees many new friendships created and old ones rekindled.

8) Forty sessions to choose from
We know that variety is the spice of life, so we are offering a choice of 40 sessions at the Biennial Weekend – led by Liberal Judaism’s rabbis, student rabbis, officers, staff and VIP guests. With tracks on everything from liturgy, theology and ‘radical rabbis’ to Israel, creativity and social action, your biggest problem will be having to decided what not to go to.
 
 

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