Israeli Progressive leaders to speak at Biennial Weekend

14 June 2018

The Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend will welcome four speakers from Israel, who all play key roles within Progressive Judaism in the country.

The Israeli delegation will now include Reuven Marko (pictured above), who is chair of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) – Liberal Judaism’s sister organisation.

He will deliver the Biennial’s Shabbat sermon, as well as leading a session with Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Charley Baginsky titled ‘The Missionary Position’, looking at how our movement can reach out beyond its current scope.

Reuven has been involved in Progressive Judaism in Israel since 1969 and has served communities and the national movement in various capacities ever since. The father-of-six runs his own business, which focuses on assisting start-up companies, and has been instrumental in many innovations including the creation of the iPhone.

Reuven will be joined by Anna Kislanski, the IMPJ’s chief operating officer who has seen the number of Progressive Judaism congregations in Israel more than double from 23 to 50 since she took up the role in 2010.

The Biennial will also hear from Israel’s Leo Baeck Education Centre’s Samia Diab (pictured above) and Student Rabbi Dahlia Shaham.

The Leo Baeck Education Centre began as a small nursery in 1938 but today includes expansive educational services for pupils nursery to 18, a Progressive synagogue and various community and sports facilities serving 35,000 people of all faiths and promoting peace and democracy.

Samia is director of the organisation’s community centre in Haifa, making history by becoming the first and only Arab Muslim woman to head such a facility in Israel.

Dahlia is herself a graduate of the Leo Baeck Education Centre, and has returned there as student rabbi at its Ohel Avraham congregation.

For the last 15 years, Dahlia was worked with with Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs on education and policy initiatives aimed at building bridges between people separated by religion, nationality and ethnicity.

Anna, Samia and Dahlia will all be part of a special track on Israel, looking at how our diaspora community can connect with the Jewish State and how we can work together and learn from each other.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, said: “We are delighted to have four such high profile guests from Israel join a strong line-up of speakers that already includes Rabbi Danny Freelander, the president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and Board of Deputies chief executive Gillian Merron.

“Our goal is to create a network between Progressive Jews in the UK and Israel. I know we have so much we can learn from each other and we need to create a pathway to get to know each other as colleagues and then as friends.

“When Israelis from Progressive communities visit the UK we want them to feel at home in our synagogues; and conversely I want every Liberal Jew to know there is a congregational home for them when they visit Israel.”

The Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend takes place from Friday 29 June until Sunday 1 July. For more details on the Biennial programme please click here.

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