Liberal Judaism Tikkun Leil Shavuot 5781

Sunday 16 May – Monday 17 May 2021 – 5 Sivan 5781

ᐃ Guest speaker Judith Plaskow 

ᐃ Study sessions ᐃ Festival services 

Liberal Judaism communities across the country are celebrating Shavuot with study sessions and services throughout the night and the next morning. Multiple communities are coming together to run online study groups and services, including for children, as part of our ‘Tikkun Leil’ programme.


To Register for the Tikkun 

Click here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to the event and joining instructions.



Watch this space for updates and additions to our Tikkun Leil Shcvuot programme

16 May 19:30 - 20:15 Shavuot Evening Service

Join Liberal Judaism communities and Rabbis for a joint Erev Shavuot service. You can also watch the service on the Liberal Judaism Facebook page and Youtube channel. We will be using Siddur Lev chadash. You are welcome to bring your own copy to the service.


16 May 19:30 - 20:15 Shavuot Evening Service
Join Liberal Judaism communities and Rabbis for a joint Erev Shavuot service. You can also watch the service on the Liberal Judaism Facebook page and Youtube channel. We will be using Siddur Lev chadash. You are welcome to bring your own copy to the service.

20:30 - 21:30 - Session slot 1

Room 1. Shavuot QUIZ

Rabbi Igor Zinkov - The Liberal Jewish Synagogue

Room 2. Sinai - an alternative reality

This session looks at how the Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, one of the earliest collections of midrashim, plays on the words of Torah to give an imaginative account of the revelation at Sinai.

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi - Birmingham Progressive

Room 3. Session for all Conversion Students

To what extent is Ruth an appropriate example of conversion for the 21st century. What other role models exist? Or should we be breaking from the need for role models and encouraging everyone to be their own person?

Rabbi Richard Jacobi - East London and Essex Liberal

Room 4. Judaism and Freemasonry

This session will look at how Judaism has influenced Western Esotericism by examining the historical narrative of Freemasonry as presented in the 1723 Anderson's Constitution, founding document of modern speculative Freemasonry

Rabbi Rene Pfertzel - Kingston Liberal

Room 5. The Clay Tablets of the British Museum

Dr Finkel will speak to us about his radical new ideas about the Biblical ""Witch"" of En-Dor, (I Samuel 28:7), prior to the publication in October of his latest book - 'The First Ghosts'. Dr Finkel served for many years as Assistant Keeper at the British Museum, in charge of 130,00 clay tablets inscribed (in cuneiform script) in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, that he reads and understands.

Dr Irving Finkel - The British Museum

21:45-22:25 Session slot 2 - Keynote Speaker

Rabbi Rebecca Birk in conversation with Judith Plaskow, author of ‘Standing Again At Sinai’. The session is pre-recorded, and will be streamed to the Liberal Judaism Facebook page and Youtube channel

22:30 - 23:45 Session slot 3

Room 1. Musings on the Ark (of the Covenant)

As our synagogue looked at the symbolism and meaning of names, we coincidentally found relevance and identity in the name of our twin community in Lviv, Ukraine. And it was not the only word for 'Ark.' This session will look at Biblical references and is as interested in your associations with the word.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Senior Rabbi of The Ark Synagogue

Room 2. ‘He had married a Cushite woman!’ - Modern assumptions about race read back into the Hebrew Bible.

Who was the Cushite woman in Numbers 12? Was she Moses’ wife, Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest whom he had married at the beginning of Exodus? Or did Moses take a second wife later on? One whom Miriam and Aaron appear to criticise. Some commentators believe that their criticism is against her race – she was a Cushite, from Ethiopia. But is this interpretation correct? Or are these modern ideas about racism read back into the Torah? 

Following the publication of the Board of Deputies’ Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community, this workshop will examine some of the texts of the Bible (and some rabbinic passages) that appear to be about race and racism. We will offer a way of challenging damaging assumptions about Jewish attitudes to race.

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, Senior Rabbi of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue.

Room 3. ‘I Was There, You Were There, We Were There’: What Does It Mean To Have Been Present at Sinai and How Should We Respond?

In this session, we will take as our starting point the startling Talmudic reading of Deuteronomy 29:13-14 which places the souls of future generations of Jews and future converts at Sinai when the covenant was established (Shevu’ot 39a:9). We will seek to develop a ‘felt sense’ of our presence at Sinai firstly by reading parts of Exodus 19 and 20 together and then through an exercise in imaginative contemplation. From that, we will consider how we can and should respond to our being explicitly located within such a foundational story of our tradition. What does it empower us to do? What responsibilities does it confer on us? 

Aidan Coyle is with Beit Klal Yisrael and is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Kingston University London.

Room 4. Rift in the Space-Time Continuum: 

(Some famous) Rabbinic stories of skipping time - what can they teach us about how we can re-emerge to an old-new world?

Rabbi Neil Janes, Rabbi of South Bucks Jewish Community

Room 5. Back to the future – of Ruth the Convert. 

What are the differences in the conversion process between Biblical times and our times? Would we accept Ruth as a convert in our days? What is the future of conversion in the Jewish community? Come and join Rabbi Yuval in a textual journey to the past, and the future. 

17 May 00:00 - 01:00 Rabbis At Midnight - Session Slot 4

Discuss together in small groups with Rabbi Rebecca Birk and other Rabbis the link between the books of Ruth & Leviticus.

Rabbi Rebecca Birk has been the Rabbi to Finchley Progressive synagogue since 2011. She is Co Chair of COLRAC with Rabbi Rene Pfertzel.

01:15 - 05:00 Study Till Morning Sh'ma - Session Slot 5-7

Join Rabbis and members of Liberal Judaism communities for a series of sessions, in a textual journey through the night of Shavuot. All welcome.

1:15 - 2:15

  1. Moses, God’s Husband

Yes, you heard correctly. There is a tradition that, from the time he received the Torah, Moses separated from his wife Zipporah because he was so attached to the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence. The Midrash on Psalm 90, ‘A prayer of Moses the man of God,’ takes this further, and daringly suggests that Moses became God’s husband. We will read this passage in Midrash Tehillim and associated passages in Talmud and midrash, and discuss the theological and gender implications of such an extraordinary idea.

Mark Solomon is Rabbi of the Edinburgh and Leicester Liberal Jewish Communities, Rosh Beit Din and Interfaith Consultant for Liberal Judaism, and senior lecturer in Rabbinic Literature at Leo Baeck College.

2:30 - 3:45

  1. Looking for the Donkeys, how do we read Ruth?

Rabbi Benay Lappe says that if a donkey were to read Torah they would find all the stories about donkeys. We read texts in ways that reflect us. What is Ruth about and how do we read it through our own lens?

Rabbi Anna Posner, Beit Klal Yisrael and Norwich Liberal Jewish Community

4:00 - 5:00 : “Tinder and Yente”  Did we meet at Sinai!?

Dating in Judaism arranged by a person or by an algorithm. In this session you will learn and discuss Jewish approaches to human and digital matchmaking.

Rabbi Igor Zinkov - The Liberal Jewish Synagogue 

Rabbi David Schwezoff

05:00 - Early shacharit

Stay with us for a short early morning festival Shacharit, led by Rabbi Igor Zinkov and members of the Liberal Judaism Conference of Rabbis and Cantors.

11:00 - Shavuot Morning Service

Join Liberal Judaism communities and Rabbis for a joint Shavuot Morning Service, led from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue by Rabbi Alexandra Wright and members of the Liberal Judaism Conference of Rabbis and Cantors. The service will be streamed on  The Liberal Jewish Synagogue YouTube channel. All welcome.