24 January 2019
Liberal Judaism communities across the UK celebrated Liberal Judaism Shabbat, as rabbis swapped pulpits for the weekend. Timed to coincide with the yahrzeit of Lily Montagu, one of our movement’s founders, many of the country’s most senior rabbis took part.
Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, led services at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS), where he honoured Lily Montagu by giving a sermon on the principles of Liberal Judaism that was also live streamed on the NPLS website.
Ealing Liberal Synagogue welcomed Liberal Judaism’s president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, for an engaging Torah breakfast and service, alongside their regular minister Rabbi Janet Burden.
After a lively discussion about the historicity of the Exodus story, Andrew sang the Song of the Sea to the tune of Bendigamos in traditional fashion from the Torah scroll. At the end of the service, Ealing member Emily Eastmond shared a special cookie-cake in honour of the festival of Tu Bishvat (pictured).
Tu Bishvat was also celebrated at Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community (SLJC), where Rabbi David Hulbert continued his ‘Rambling Rabbi’ sabbatical that sees him visiting a number of Progressive communities around the country.
David led a breakfast study session around the meaning of the festival, followed by a Tu Bishvat seder that involved eating the different types of fruit to represent the different types of people; s/he who cares only for others (and not themselves), s/he who only cares for him/herself (and not for others), s/he who does not care for others or themselves and the balanced person who cares for others and also him/herself.
SLJC chair Beverley Levy said: “We are a very small community and really appreciated the visit by Rabbi David Hulbert, which transformed a normal Shabbat into something truly special.”
Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and Bristol & West Progressive Congregation swapped ministers, with Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi heading to Bristol and Rabbi Monique Mayer heading in the opposite direction.
Margaret said: “I very much enjoyed the enthusiastic singing at Bristol, where I talked about Lily Montagu and heard memories from a member who remembered her. I led a Tu Bishvat seder afterwards, with lots of fruit, and the children joined with lots of questions and answers.
“Monique was very well received in Birmingham, where she introduced people to Musar, and I have heard some great reports from congregants.”
Other Liberal communities taking part in Liberal Judaism Shabbat included East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue (Rabbi Janet Burden), York Liberal Jewish Community (Rabbi Lea Mühlstein), Southgate Progressive Synagogue and Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community (Rabbi Aaron Goldstein), The Liberal Synagogue Elstree (Rabbi Yuval Keren), Beit Klal Yisrael (Rabbi Elana Dellal), Crouch End Chavurah (Rabbi Nathan Godleman) and South London Liberal Synagogue (Rabbi Sandra Kviat).
There was also a special Kabbalat Torah weekend, which saw teenagers from a number of Liberal communities get together at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. You can read more about it here.
Read more about Liberal Judaism Shabbat in this week’s Jewish Chronicle here.
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