January/February 2020 VOL. XLVII No. 1
Liberal Judaism is a constituent of the World Union for Progressive Judaism
Harry honoured by AJEX
Rabbi Richard Jacobi and Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi laying a wreath of honour for their father
By Rabbi Richard Jacobi WHEN a representative of AJEX - now formally named The Jewish Military Association UK - reached out to me to ask if we’d be willing to lay a special wreath to honour the memory of our father, Rabbi Harry Jacobi MBE, the answer was obvious. So it was that my sister Margaret and I, together with our families, once more joined the annual gathering outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Speeches at a pre-event brunch reminded us of the incredible service given in the past and present by Jewish army, navy, air force and other uniformed staff. The speakers emphasised the narrative of Jews not being victims but active agents, especially in the context of World War Two. They also committed to support all efforts to combat the rise in far-right and far-left anti-Jewish hatred.
At the AJEX Ceremony and Parade itself, it was very moving to see so many people of all ages respectfully remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who risked all to do their duty in times of conflict. Remembrance carries with it the responsibility to do all we can to prevent recurrences of the wars, bloodshed and destruction that marked the 20th century. When our turn came, and we heard AJEX vice president Jeffrey Fox read out the name of “the late Rabbi Harry Jacobi MBE who helped officiate this event over many years”, we felt great pride and humility in stepping forward to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph. Stepping back to bow our heads and pause to reflect, we both appreciated how fortunate we are and how vigilant we need to be to ensure our country retains and strengthens its liberal democratic culture. Dad would expect nothing less of us!
Rabbis unite on Mitzvah Day
LIBERAL JUDAISM’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, was part of a moving Mitzvah Day event that saw all sections of the Jewish community in Finchley showing support for their Muslim neighbours. Danny teamed up with Finchley Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Rebecca Birk – as well as Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill United Synagogue, Rabbi Miriam Berger of Finchley Reform Synagogue and Rabbi Jeff Berger of the Spanish & Portuguese Sephardi Community – to plant bulbs at the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association (SBWA). The new SBWA centre opened only recently. The community’s previous home was destroyed in a racist arson attack six years ago, when the letters EDL were found sprayed on the side of the building. Danny, Rebecca and their rabbinic colleagues joined Jews and Muslims of all ages at the centre to plant bulbs, attaching labels with notes, which will now go to brighten up a local care home. Danny said: “The friendship between the Somali Bravanese and Jewish communities has brought so much to both of us. Love and friendship always wins over hate and division.” He added: “If the Sabbath was the Hebrew culture’s gift to the ancient world, Mitzvah Day may well rank as the Jewish community’s gift to the modern world.” • Pages 6-7: Mitzvah Day picture special
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Clergy plan for 2020 at annual retreat Rabbi Aaron Goldstein reports back as rabbis and cantors gathered for Kallah
WHEN you start a conversation with the difference between liberalism and postliberalism, only the most intellectual squeal with delight. Fortunately, our Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors (CoLRaC) are a supportive collegiate group, blessed with a variety of skillsets. And so, at our annual Kallah (retreat), we discussed all aspects of our congregations and movement - from the theoretical to the very practical. On the former we were in the capable hands of Rabbi Judith Rosen-Berry, who would leave even the least philosophically astute asking for more... and indeed we did, even adding an additional session. Our thinking fed in to a consideration of liturgy, as carefully planned by Kallah chair Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel.
Co-editors of our new Siddur Shirah Chadashah - Rabbis Lea Mühlstein and Elli Tikvah-Sarah - led sessions focussed on the complexity of translation. The exercise highlighted the variety of skillsets we possess and how we all need to focus and commit ourselves to the process of liturgy development. CoLRaC resolved that 50 per cent of our contact time during the first half of 2020 would be dedicated to liturgy. We hope that the product of our Kallah – both theoretical and practical – will now be felt in congregations and certainly at the 2020 Biennial Weekend. Kallah is also a time for us: to be together to develop relationships; to welcome new colleagues and final year Leo Baeck College students; to pray together; to have our own kef (fun)
• Rabbi Aaron Goldstein is chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors
Anna’s new College role
TLSE honours its founders
THE LIBERAL SYNAGOGUE ELSTREE (TLSE) rounded off its 50th anniversary year with a special Shabbat morning service celebrating its founders. The event was attended by many who were there at the beginning, including (pictured L to R) Harvey Adams, Val Dickson, Monique Blake, Rabbi Alan Mann and Sheila and Terry Benson, as well as Rosita Rosenberg (not pictured).
evening session, prepared by Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi; and also to remember colleagues who used to share the experience with us. This year we recalled those who died during the last 12 months - Rabbis David Goldberg, Charles Wallach and Harry Jacobi. Harry was the focus of a session on his thought led by his children, Rabbis Margaret and Richard Jacobi. Kallah plays a vital role in CoLRaC’s year and we do not take for granted the support of congregations to enable us to receive this opportunity. Please ask your rabbi or cantor for feedback and ways to integrate their learning into the life of your congregation.
A CELEBRATION of the life of Rabbi Emeritus Dr David J Goldberg OBE (1939 – 2019) will be held on Sunday 19 January 2020 at 5pm at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS). There will be tributes, readings and a range of music all specially chosen by David. Everyone is welcome to join Carole and her family. Refreshments will be served after the service. To attend, RSVP to email@example.com or call the LJS office on 020 7432 1283.
CLIFTON COLLEGE - the independent boarding and day school in Bristol - has appointed Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Anna Gerrard as its first ever Jewish chaplain. Anna’s role will include ensuring that Jewish pupils are able to live a Jewish life within the wider school community, including celebrating Jewish festivals, sharing Friday Night dinners and learning about their Jewish identity and heritage. Anna said: “I was attracted to the role because it enables me to build on my experience as a congregational rabbi in a new and different setting. I look forward to working with a diverse group of pupils and uniting them into one community.”
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Lord Mann to help celebrate Our Biennial 118 years of Liberal Judaism Collaboratory
LIBERAL JUDAISM is delighted to announce Lord (John) Mann as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Annual Fundraising Dinner at Goldsmiths’ Hall on Thursday 6 February 2020. Lord Mann recently took up his seat in the House of Lords, having previously served as MP for Bassetlaw for 18 years. He has also been appointed as an independent advisor to the Government on antisemitism, drawing on his years of experience of combatting antisemitism in all its forms across the political spectrum - including as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism. Following the success of our last dinner at Goldsmiths’ Hall, we are returning to the fabulous surroundings for another year. Join us under the candlelight to celebrate 118 years of Liberal Judaism. You will hear and see stories from some of the ‘giants’ who made Liberal Judaism what it is today and others who will now shape its future. As it has been 118 years, we are referencing the numerical significance of the number 18 in Judaism. Hebrew, unlike English, doesn’t have ‘numbers’,
so numeric values are assigned to certain Hebrew letters. The word chai meaning ‘alive’, and probably most popularly used in the phrase am yisrael chai (the people of Israel live), represents the number 18. Thus the Jewish world has seen the number 18 as an important one for centuries, and traditionally many Jewish families have given monetary gifts in multiples of 18 at weddings and bnei mitzvah celebrations. We will be continuing this ‘most Jewish’ of traditions on our donor cards at the dinner. As Liberal Judaism approaches its 118th year, we also want to focus on the important role that so many people have played in giving chai to our movement. Our fundraising dinner will celebrate those people and focus on ensuring that we can continue to be the home for your Jewish story for another 118 years. If you would like to attend the dinner whether as a community or an individual - please visit www.liberaljudaism.org/ annual-fundraising-dinner If you would like to know about our sponsorship opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The debate continues IN 2019, Liberal Judaism launched its series of Hot Potatoes dialogue events. Covering a number of the hotly debated issues within the Jewish community, the events succeeded in creating a ‘safe space’ for debate without judgement and a free and frank exchange of views. Topics discussed included antisemitism in the Labour Party, faith schools and citizenship.
Now, as we enter 2020, lots more events are planned - again seeking to tackle the topics that many others prefer to shy away from. Throughout the year panels will discuss circumcision, Israel, British politics and Dignity in Dying. To find out more and register your interest for a future event, please visit www.liberaljudaism.org/hot-potatoes
THIS YEAR’S Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend will take place from 22-24 May at the De Vere Staverton Estate in Daventry, NN11 6JT. Our theme is Liberal Judaism: Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is both an open space and a creative process where partners work together to generate solutions to, sometimes complex, problems. Liberal Judaism is made stronger via its partnerships, be they internal (with our communities) or external (with other organisations and faiths) and our Collaboratory will be the place to see it happen. We’ll have many exciting programme announcements in the coming weeks, but for now we’re asking communities to start working on this year’s community project. The project is always a wonderful opportunity to showcase the incredible work of our congregations in fun and creative ways. For this year’s Biennial Weekend we are asking communities to design their own unique cocktails. The dictionary defines cocktail as ‘a mixture of substances or factors’. We’d like our communities to design (and create if possible) a cocktail that represents them - sending us pictures of both the creation process and end result. Liberal Judaism will then provide a bar at the Biennial, where each of the cocktails will be made and served, as well as creating a recipe book compiling all the different drinks submitted. Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships Rabbi Charley Baginsky said: “Cocktails are individual units made up of many, at first sight, indiscernible ingredients - like our communities! Sometimes, it’s only by partaking that we start to see and taste the different flavours that make up the whole. “Each ingredient of a cocktail is carefully chosen to complement or contrast with the others - all adding to the overall positive taste. “Ultimately a cocktail, like a community, takes a lot of people working together to strike the perfect balance.” • Register your interest for Biennial 2020 at www.liberaljudaism.org/biennial/ and take part in our cocktail project by emailing email@example.com
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York service brings the whole city together
YORK’S Lord Mayor, Cllr Janet Looker, and her consort Patricia Castle, joined around a hundred others from across the faith traditions at York Liberal Jewish Community’s interfaith service. The annual event - which includes an explanation of Jewish liturgy as well as the traditional prayers and songs - was led by visiting Rabbi Rachel Benjamin. Rachel read from the community’s
centuries-old Czech Torah scroll, which was rescued from the Holocaust. Other guests included York Central parliamentary candidates Rachael Maskell and James Blanchard, the Archbishop of York’s Chief of Staff Revd Canon Malcolm McNaughton, Daryoush Mazloum, chair of York Interfaith Group, and York’s student rabbi for the year Peter Luyendjik.
Elstree’s Daniel wins Parliamentary award
DANIEL BERNARD, a member of The Liberal Synagogue Elstree (TLSE), won the Most Inspirational Young Person Award at the Inspire the House Awards at The Houses of Parliament.
Following his success at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi earlier this year – where he represented Team GB and won gold with the men’s basketball team – Daniel was nominated for the award by his MP Richard Harrington. In his nomination, Mr Harrington - who at the time was MP for Watford - wrote that Daniel had “overcome adversity to represent his country so successfully on the world stage”. He added: “Daniel’s remarkable achievement is a true inspiration to young people in our area and across the country, particularly those like him who have a learning disability.” Daniel has autism and learning difficulties. He was extremely proud to win the award, especially as he was accompanied by his family. Daniel and his family are all passionate Liberal Jews and members of TLSE.
The Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood, chancellor and dean to York Minster, led a prayer on behalf of the local community. In the lead up to the service, the congregation was the subject of a lengthy feature by The Times of Israel, which looked at the rebuilding of Jewish life in York 800 years after the most notorious pogrom against Jews in English history.
Rabbi Dr Miri Lawrence with husband Dr Howard Cohen at her PhD celebrations
READING LIBERAL JEWISH COMMUNITY were delighted to celebrate the award of a PhD to Rabbi, now Dr, Miri Lawrence. The synagogue was specially decorated and many congregants wore pink, which is Miri’s favourite colour. There was even a pink-themed kiddush afterwards. Miri said: “The ‘pink Shabbat’, as it shall now be known, was a complete and beautiful surprise. For me it was just one illustration of the warmth and creativity of our wonderful Reading community.”
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Slovakian Ambassador: NPLS Scroll is an inspiration for unity
Slovakian Ambassador Lubomír Rehák learns at NPLS with Rabbis Aaron and Andrew Goldstein and Cynthia Drapkin, pictures by Victor Shack
NORTHWOOD & PINNER LIBERAL SYNAGOGUE (NPLS) welcomed Slovakian Ambassador Lubomír Rehák and press attaché Milan Matlovic for a special event based around the community’s Torah Scroll from the country. NPLS have a Scroll from Spišská Nová Ves, in the east of Slovakia, which survived the Holocaust in a hidden compartment of a wardrobe. They have spent the last two decades studying the Jewish community that once lived there. Cynthia Drapkin, one of the leaders of the research, took the Ambassador through the findings and the NPLS archive, before the synagogue’s Senior Rabbi Aaron Goldstein and Emeritus Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein showed him into the sanctuary to view the Torah. The rabbis explained that, as part of the bar/batmitzvah process at NPLS, young people learn about Northwood’s Scrolls and the places where they came from. Many choose to read from the one from Spišská Nová Ves during their ceremony, as they are fascinated by its story.
(L-R) Liberal Judaism’s Karen Newman and Simon Benscher, Matthew Iles and colleagues from Southborough High School, Rabbi René Pfetzel, KLS chair Craig Simmons, Mayor of Elmbridge Councillor Mary Sheldon with John Sheldon, former Mayor of Kingston-uponThames Thay Thayalan and Revd Dr Kuhan Satkunanayagam of St Mary’s Church
The Ambassador also met synagogue chair Leslie Moss, president Spencer Cowan, Sharon Goldstein, Jane Drapkin, Neil Drapkin and Joanne Davis. He said: “The fact that this Torah Scroll of the extinct Jewish community from Spišská Nová Ves in Slovakia continues to be used for prayers in London is important, not only for Jewish religious life and the memory of the tragic fate of Slovak Jews, but also to serve as an inspiration and an encouragement for contacts, cooperation and spiritual unity between our countries.” Various visits to Spišská Nová Ves by NPLS members have led to wonderful relationships being formed with the locals there and especially the gymnasium (high school) across the road from where the synagogue once stood. Pupils now tend the Jewish cemetery and continue researching the history of the Jews of their town. Cynthia said: “The Ambassador’s visit brought honour both to our synagogue and to the town of Spišská Nová Ves. KINGSTON LIBERAL SYNAGOGUE (KLS) were joined by local mayors, representatives of other faith communities and school teachers for their annual Civic Service. Falling on Remembrance Day weekend, the service remembered the two World Wars, the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht and the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a poignant moment of particular importance to the KLS community, the memories of three Czech communities lost in the Holocaust were honoured.
“It strengthened the connection between the two and acknowledged the almost 20 years’ work, in both places, to research and remember this former Jewish community. It also gave formal recognition to the proposed memorial which we hope, with the Ambassador’s support, to have erected in the town.” At the end of the visit Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein presented the Ambassador with a gift of a book about Slovak synagogues by Maroš Borsky and two catalogues from recent exhibitions in Bratislava’s Heydukova Street Synagogue. The Ambassador then presented gifts of his own to the synagogue and to Cynthia. Andrew, who is also president of Liberal Judaism, said: “The work of Cynthia and those around her exemplifies our duty to remember those who once read from our Torah Scroll. Educating local people about why they have no Jewish neighbours today helps ensure this will not happen to others tomorrow.” To find out more visit www.npls.org.uk/ home/culture/our-czech-heritage/ KLS is the trustee of Torah Scrolls from the Czech towns of Tabor, Rychnov and Blatna, where Jewish communities once thrived before the Holocaust. Each year they honour the memory of these lost communities, as well as the almost 80,000 Czech Jews murdered in the Shoah. Matthew Iles, who teaches religious education at Southborough High School, said “Despite the solemn subject matter it was overall an uplifting service and gave a real feel for the life of this local Jewish community.”
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Mitzvah Day 20
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue joined Nishkam Swat, a Sikh welfare and awareness team, to serve food to over 100 homeless people
York Liberal Jewish Community planted a hawthorn tree, as well as making dog toys for the RSPCA and helping at a homeless charity
Nottingham Liberal Synagogue members from all generations sang and entertained the patients at Queenâ€™s Medical Centre
Stevenage Liberal Synagogue teamed up with the University of the Third Age to collect more than 600 books for the charity Langdon
Kingston Liberal Synagogue ran a number of green Mitzvah Day events including litter picking, bird feeding and cemetery clearing
Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community collected household items and donated them to the New Haven Homeless Resettlement Hostel
South London Liberal Synagogue headed to the supermarket where they supported a donation drive for their local food bank
East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue and Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue ran collections to help those in need
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019 in pictures
Rabbis Danny Rich and Rebecca Birk were part of the Finchley Progressive Synagogue daffodil planting at Highgate Cemetery
Birmingham Jewish Community - which unites synagogues of all denominations - performed music at Queen Elizabeth Hospital
LJY-Netzer members from all over the UK travelled to Leeds to sing, chat and make tea for the residents of an old age home
Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue, Kol Chai Reform and the Friends of Croxley Common Moor teamed up to clear the moor
Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue knitted 77 premature baby hats for both Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable Hospital
The JĂźdische Liberale Gemeinde in Zurich - a founder of the Swiss Platform for Liberal Judaism - cleaned up their neighbourhood
The Liberal Synagogue Elstree collected toiletries and other personal care items to make into kits for the homeless in Watford
Manchester Liberal Jewish Community members joined a special Mitzvah Day tea and interfaith tour of the local Eccles Mosque
Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation put on events based on Mitzvah Dayâ€™s green theme including a green craft cheder activity
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KT programme launches Last chance By Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi
for your story
THE new Liberal Judaism Kabbalat Torah (KT) programme, Judaism In Plain Sight, launched with a weekend sleepover in Birmingham for 10 teenagers from our Birmingham, Kingston, Nottingham and York congregations. On Friday night Tom Smith, from LJYNetzer, helped participants think about what Judaism had to do with social action and social justice and what the difference was between the two. The following day, after a Shabbat service led by participants, we talked about what changes we might want to make in the world and how we might want to achieve them. Issues discussed included antisemitism in schools and votes for 16-year-olds. In the afternoon we went into the city centre. We stopped at the new Birmingham Library to enjoy the views over the city. We then visited the Faith Gallery at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (pictured) where we looked at what different faiths had to say about caring for others. We were delighted to see that the exhibition contains the Tzedakah box of an LJY-Netzer member.
OUR Lottery Heritage Fund supported oral history and archive project - Lily’s Legacy: The Radical History and Heritage of Liberal Judaism - is soon entering its next phase, meaning this is the last chance to share your story or object. We’re still looking for a range of diverse Liberal Jewish stories and experiences - covering everyone from long-standing members to the new generation - as well as items and materials that show Liberal Jewish life past and present. All stories and materials will form a permanent record at the London Metropolitan Archives and other heritage institutes. The project will also produce exhibition and educational materials. Please contact project manager Shaan Knan on lilyslegacyproject@ liberaljudaism.org if you wish to organise a heritage event at your congregation or have a story or object to share. Please also contact Shaan if you wish to volunteer to help Lily’s Legacy collate and showcase materials, including at an exhibition from January 2020. If you wish to find out more, please visit www.lilyslegacyproject.com
On our return, we talked more about what we had seen and what we could do, before enjoying a pizza supper and relaxing by watching a film. Before we left the next morning, we spent some time discussing the weekend and future plans before saying goodbye until next time. The next KT event is a visit behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum on Sunday 12 January to see what Judaism has to do with history and evolution. We are privileged to have Professor Adrian Lister, from Finchley Progressive Synagogue, to lead us. Other future events will include a look at alternative food in preparation for Tu Bishvat, on Sunday 9 February, and a weekend in Nottingham and either York or Lincoln, looking at historic Jewish communities and life in the regions, on 14-17 May. It is not too late to join us. Sign up at www.bit.ly/LJKTProgramme2020
Liberal Jewish presenters and sessions at Limmud Hayden Cohen, Rabbi Neil Janes, Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, Rabbi Leah Jordan and Rabbi Benjamin Stanley - The Bagel Podcast presents: Talmud for Schmeryls Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi - 1) Is a tree a human? Is a human a tree? 2) The mysterious corpse - our responsibility? Geoffrey Ben-Nathan - Palestinians or Jews: Whose land is it? Student Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber - 1) Freedom of pulpit: are there limits on what a rabbi can say? 2) Can trees go before a beit din? 3) Was Binyamin a werewolf?
Dr Steve Herman and Rabbi Jeffrey Newman (Shema - The Jewish Environmental Network) - Nice Jews don’t rebel - they’d rather go extinct Rabbi Monique Mayer - 1) Intro to Mussar: how can I honour someone when they’re wrong? 2) Intro to Mussar: what if my “get up and go” got up and went? Raymond Simonson, Robin Moss, Adi Rothman Berman and Shifra MorrisEvans - How can we teach the next generation to love being Jewish? Graham Carpenter - 1) The world is still our precious oyster, and it needs you 2) What makes our Jewish values… Jewish?
Matan Rosenstrauch, Anna Roiser, Rabbi Leah Jordan, Naomi Magnus, Lauren Chaplin, Nina Morris-Evans and Marco Schneebalg - Why Na’amod is talking about the elephant in the room
Student Rabbi Elliott Karstadt - 1) He set his eyes upon him, and turned him into a pile of bones’: rabbinic power and self-criticism 2) Qohelet: human or posthuman
Robin Moss - 1 & 2) The First World War: a personal odyssey parts one and two 3) We’re all doomed! The pessimistic predictions of the early Zionists
Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris 1) Esther in the court of Ahasuerus 2) Control and violence: questioning equality in the Song of Songs
Helena Miller, Jane Shapiro and Rabbi Michael Shire - A 21st century purpose for Jewish education Rachel Montagu - 1 & 2) Building and constructing Biblical Hebrew verbs parts 1 and 2 Anya Shire-Plumb - How a Jewish girl fell in love with Christian Renaissance Art (how art can change our minds) European Union of Jewish Students Yoni Stone, Esther Offenberg and Lauren Keiles - Empowering our future leaders Rabbi Leah Jordan - Fighting (our) demons: toward a theology of evil in Torah & Buffy the Vampire Slayer Paul Silver-Myer - Michael Shire Perceptions of Jews and money: responding from head and heart Sandra Webber - Book dippers: a kind of literary speed dating Yszi Hawkings - You shall vaccinate your children
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Prophetic leadership: Reassessing Goliath, rekindling David Lucian J Hudson writes the first of three articles on the question of leadership in a polarised age FOR Liberal Jews, the influence of the Prophets is intrinsic and integral to our sense of purpose and destiny. But for us to seize its full contemporary significance, we need to appreciate the scope and limits of this type of leadership for our future as a movement. Later articles will focus on where prophetic leadership could now be applied, what is to be done and how, but this article sets out the principles. Prophetic leadership taps into what is really happening in society and engages with what is marginalised, silenced and ignored. It has inner and outer dimensions. We have to be the change we want to see. It’s not a recipe for tokenistic acknowledgement of social ills but provokes a deeper engagement, and that can mean challenging the status quo and its power structures. It’s not only uncomfortable but puts us possibly in conflict with the majority. Not because we seek that conflict, but because speaking truth to power is a prerequisite. This requires demonstrating empathy, understanding others’ concerns and acting on those concerns without losing sight of what would be the right thing to do. We don’t hold back on empathy from anybody, including the support that we
need to give leaders and the support they can expect from us. Liberal Jews are there for others, especially the afflicted and estranged, those not like us, working their suffering through with them. But how often are we drawn to those we know and that which we know, to reassuring platitudes rather than getting to the heart of an issue, even if it upsets our assumptions? Being prophetic requires first that we are tough with ourselves, mindful of our blind spots and therefore engaging with those who can tell us what we are not seeing or not appreciating enough. We don’t satisfy ourselves with easy solutions if the problem demands more radical action. This doesn’t need to be rushed or not thought through, but does require that nettles are grasped. This can mean tension or conflict with those in positions of authority - but it can also mean going against the populist grain, and resisting a hostile majoritarianism that stifles independence of thought and differences of opinion. We are witnessing not just growing distrust of elites, but the erosion of deference to expertise and accuracy. Descartes’ I think, therefore I am has been subverted by I feel, therefore I am, which risks another form of solipsism and narcissism. Today’s prophetic leadership needs to be equally robust with those forces that undermine reason, civilised behaviour and a multiplicity of experiences and perspectives. Populism, though understandable, is a tyrannical child if uncontrolled. We have to be receptive to insight into what drives populism, but we also need the foresight
to overcome it. That means trusting our intuition, which we can see as a combination of cognitive, emotional and spiritual sensibility. Prophetic leadership is not overwhelmed by the negative, however much this has to be addressed. It is also attuned to what might be a better state of affairs, and it is visionary, not just plumbing the depths but scaling the heights, even in the face of setbacks. We need to give fresh expression to what might constitute a Messianic age; now of all times. It’s a big, positive vision of the future that has inspired our greatest achievements, especially when the present seemed most bleak. Rather than being resigned to a self-defeating pessimism and moribund fatalism, in moments of greatest trial we harnessed that indomitable spark that characterises the skill and courage of every David in combat with their Goliath. David was not weak but audacious, resourceful and determined - seizing the opportunity to apply superior skill and difference in perspective that, when combined, defeated a seemingly mightier foe. There are limits to prophetic leadership. Historically, complementing the Prophets were the Hakamim, the wise, whose aim was practical and moral - balancing the Prophets’ fire, passion and appeal to divine righteousness with dispassionate, calm, human reason. In our tempestuous times, it is integrating both that will ensure we are authentic, credible and even more influential. • Lucian J Hudson is a vice president and past chair of Liberal Judaism
‘This is an attack on all humanity’ By Jane Drapkin and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein AS Jewish Communities around the country begin planning, training and educating around Holocaust Memorial Day, we cannot ignore a potential genocide unfolding in plain sight – being perpetrated by China against the Uyghur Muslim and other minority groups. The current programme of ‘forced re-education’ has already been called a ‘cultural genocide’.
There is evidence of: concentration camps; transportation of large groups of people from Xingiang Province to less accessible areas; torture and dehumanisation. These suggest an actual genocide would be all too easily arranged should the world remain silent. Whenever Liberal Judaism has been participating in the protests outside the Chinese Cultural Embassy, it has been noticeable how many Muslims have stopped to find out about the cause and why we, as Jews, were protesting.
Our voice does matter and it was heartening to see the Board of Deputies voicing concern, which in turn will hopefully put pressure on the Foreign Office. Hopefully a recent BBC Panorama exposé will also broaden the population in the UK now receptive to our call. Liberal Judaism supports calls for the maximum international pressure on China until the Uyghur Muslims and all others incarcerated with them are released. This is an attack on humanity and it’s vital the world responds.
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A salutary but important read Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance by Amy Kaplan (ISBN: 9780674737624) REVIEWED by Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh OUR AMERICAN ISRAEL tells the story of the relationship between the United States and the State of Israel. The author, Professor Amy Kaplan, has the Edward W Kane chair in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Like many Jewish Americans, Professor Kaplan has her own relationship with Israel, but the fact that she is an expert in another discipline means this book contains no obvious bias and much objectivity. She traces the ways in which the founding myths of Israel were deemed to mirror some of those of the States and how the closeness that grew between the two countries in the early days was influenced by the muscular Jews of the Israeli army, a contrast to those ‘hapless millions’ who died in the Shoah.
As American awareness and understanding of the Shoah grew in the 1970s, as the word ‘Holocaust’ was used more frequently in political discourse, so the State of Israel was seen as a wholly appropriate response to the calamity that the Jews of Europe had suffered at the hands of the Nazis and their willing allies. The apotheosis of this closeness was probably in the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967, a deliverance from the threat of another Holocaust and an incentive to the US to ensure that nothing could ever threaten Israel again. Attitudes to Israel within American society began to change in the early 1980s, significantly influenced by Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Specific actions during the campaign began to affect the perception of Israel. The plight of Palestinian refugees, and subsequent events, specifically the Intifadas, accelerated that process. Perhaps the most interesting area of all concerns the iteration of the relationship following 9/11. When President Bush used the word Holocaust in speeches after the attacks on New York and Washington, Kaplan asserts the President was making a direct comparison between Americans and Israelis.
The impact of the attacks brought an even closer relationship between the militaries of the two countries. Israel was deemed to be ahead of the States in its sophisticated means of counterterrorism, almost all of which were integrated into the US forces’ capability. In addition, Israel’s self-portrayal as an ‘invincible victim’ became mirrored in the US after 9/11. A shared sense of global enmity towards them both brought even stronger ties, notably with US evangelical Christianity which embraced Israel and its travails as a vital component in the predicted Second Coming. Our American Israel is a wellresearched and presented text, exploring an ultimately sad trajectory from certainty to fear. It details the close connections between Israel and the US on many levels, as well as highlighting the growing challenges to what appear to be unbreakable bonds. Kaplan concludes with a reflection on the sort of dystopian society that besieged countries which feel threatened from without will come to live in - “cities like military zones, occupied by police indistinguishable from soldiers, and monitored by sophisticated systems of homeland security”. This is a salutary but important read.
A deeply personal story of hope Unorthodox: LGBT+ Identity and Faith edited by Séan Richardson (ISBN: 9781910170601) REVIEWED by Ben Combe UNORTHODOX: LGBT+ IDENTITY AND FAITH, edited by Séan Richardson, is an anthology of stories and essays by people of various faiths, exploring the personal lives and struggles of LGBTQI+ people of faith. The final piece, ‘Holy Books’, is written by Rabbi Mark Solomon of Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community and Leicester Liberal Jewish Community. Mark tells his story through a series of deeply personal snapshots, showing his life with the guiding hand of a rabbi looking back at his younger self with optimism. Explaining his thought processes at the time, we journey with him from Australia to Israel, and eventually to Britain, all through the lens of sexuality and his personal coming of age in the Jewish community.
Towards the end of ‘Holy Books’, he describes how and why he moved from Orthodox to Liberal Judaism, via Reform Judaism. Mark, alongside his colleagues in the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, has played a key role in the fight for equality. He edited Liberal Judaism’s ground-breaking Covenant of Love: Service of Commitment for SameSex Couples in 2005, was a long-term campaigner for equal marriage to be made law and wrote the first ketubot for same-sex couples and those who prefer a non-binary or gender neutral format. In this book, Mark writes beautifully about his own life and his story offers hope that we may all find spaces where we are accepted for who we are.
While Liberal Judaism may not be perfect - and Mark does not shy away from calling out the movement for our past shortcomings - he writes with hope and calm, critical of both Liberal Judaism and himself, but always from a place of good faith. As a younger member of the community, I was unaware of much of the history of LGBTQI+ inclusion and celebration within British Jewry. This gave me a fantastic new insight.
LJ Today Page 11
LJY-Netzer is Liberal Judaism’s Zionist youth movement. It gives young people the opportunity to develop a strong Progressive Jewish identity, make lasting friendships and have loads of fun
‘I cannot imagine my life without LJY’ Three LJY-Netzer members share their experiences of recent tours and events Rebekah Treganna on Israel Tour 5779...
SPENDING almost a month in Israel with 42 other 16 year olds, and five incredible madrichim (leaders), truly was the trip of a lifetime. We toured all over the country learning about the different groups in Israeli society from their own first-hand accounts: Charedim, the Druze community, Ethiopian Jews, the LGBTQI+ community, the Bedouin and Palestinians. We did not shy away from difficult conversations about Reform Zionism and the Israel-Palestine conflict, which illuminated new ways of thinking for all of us and challenged our existing ideas about our relationship with Israel as Liberal Jews. Our political education did not stop there - we quizzed journalist Nathan Jeffay on geopolitics and spoke with Women of the Wall about the Orthodox monopoly over Israeli-Jewish life.
Amber Nathan on Machaneh Aviv and Kayitz... BEING a madrachah (leader) on Machaneh Aviv camp changed my life and gave me so much confidence that I’ve now taken it into all aspects of what I do.
LJY’s four pillars (tikkun olam, youth empowerment, Liberal Judaism and Reform Zionism) were incorporated into everything we did, ensuring our trip was filled with chances to live out the ideology we so often discussed. However, it was not all education. Aqua Kef, rafting on the Jordan, beach time, floating in the Dead Sea and countless water hikes cooled us off from the hot Israeli sun - which reached 43 degrees on some days - while free time in the markets allowed us to get to know our surroundings well. A particular highlight for me was camel riding in the desert, followed by hiking Masada before sunrise the following morning. While incredibly tiring (and sweaty), it is definitely a memory I will never forget. Each of us developed our spiritual and religious Jewish identity, visiting the Western Wall and even leading our own services on the final shabbat of Tour. We also got the chance to live out iconic LJY experiences - staying at the much-loved Kibbutz Lotan and grabbing Netzer merch at the headquarters of the WUPJ. But perhaps the most incredible part of tour was the strong bonds of friendships we all made, which I know will last a lifetime. I am so excited to continue my LJY journey, now as a leader, and can’t recommend Israel Tour enough!
Gideon Leibowitz on the Tamar and Arzenu Conference...
The session I ran on mental health was particularly influential in my life as it literally made me realise I want to be a child psychologist and work with children. I was also part of Kayitz - the Europe tour for those in Year 12 to learn and experience the Jewish Diaspora story.
I loved learning about Jewish history especially the Childhood War Museum in Sarajevo and meeting a rabbi in Vienna as it made me feel closer to my faith. Becoming part of LJY-Netzer has given me a real sense of belonging - I cannot imagine my life without it now.
THIS conference, held in Marseille, France, was split into two sections. The first was a programme primarily focused on the work of Arzenu the global umbrella organisation of Progressive Religious Zionists. Rabbi Lea Mühlstein, the international chair of Arzenu, gave a powerful account of the role the Reform movement can and should play within the World Zionist Organisation. Leaders from LJY-Netzer then joined with our peers from around the world to examine the part that Tamar - the international movement of Progressive Jewish young people - has in our local communities and different ways to increase engagement. Our number then grew from 65 to more than 250 for the iVision Conference with sessions ranging from discussions on Zionism and antisemitism to learning Krav Maga and everything in between. Each day was filled with lively, intense discussion. The sharing of ideas between Jews from over 20 different countries was inspiring, educational and lots of fun.
If you, or your child, would like to take part in one of our incredible LJY-Netzer events then applications are already open for Israel Tour 5780 and our Machaneh Aviv spring camp with others to follow soon. Visit www.ljy-netzer.org to sign up
Contact LJY-Netzer: Fran Kurlansky (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rosa Slater (email@example.com) and Jacob Swirsky (firstname.lastname@example.org); Director of Youth - Rebecca Fetterman (email@example.com)
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Liberal Judaism congregations Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue T: 0845 869 7105 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: bedfordshire-ps.org.uk
Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community T: 0131 777 8024 E: email@example.com W: eljc.org
Beit Klal Yisrael (London) E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: bky.org.uk
Finchley Progressive Synagogue T: 020 8446 4063 E: email@example.com W: fps.org
Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue T: 01923 822 592 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: npls.org.uk
Kehillah North London T: 020 7403 3779 E: email@example.com W: kehillah.org.uk
Norwich Liberal Jewish Community E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: norwichljc.org.uk
Kent Liberal Jewish Community T: 07952 242 432 E: email@example.com W: kljc.org.uk
Nottingham Liberal Synagogue T: 0115 962 4761 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kingston Liberal Synagogue T: 020 8398 7400 E: email@example.com W: klsonline.org
Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community T: 07561 331 390 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: pljc.org.uk
Birmingham Progressive Synagogue T: 0121 634 3888 E: email@example.com W: bpsjudaism.com Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue T: 01273 737 223 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: bhps-online.org Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation T: 0117 403 3456 E: email@example.com W: bwpjc.org Crawley Jewish Community T: 01293 534 294 Crouch End Chavurah E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: crouchendchavurah.co.uk Dublin Progressive Congregation E: email@example.com W: djpcireland.com
Ealing Liberal Synagogue T: 020 8997 0528 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: ealingliberalsynagogue.org.uk East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue T: 0208 989 7619 E: email@example.com W: eastlondonandessexliberal synagogue.org Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community T: 07497 401 280 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: eljc.org.uk
Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation T: 0116 271 5584 E: email@example.com W: lpjc.org.uk The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (St John’s Wood) T: 020 7286 5181 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: ljs.org
Mosaic Liberal (Harrow) T: 020 8864 5323 E: email@example.com W: mosaicliberal.org.uk
Reading Liberal Jewish Community T: 0118 942 8022 E: readingliberaljewishcommunity@ gmail.com
W: readingljc.org.uk Shir Hatzafon (Copenhagen) E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: shirhatzafon.dk
The Liberal Synagogue Elstree T: 020 8953 8889 E: email@example.com W: tlse.org.uk
South Bucks Jewish Community T: 0845 644 2370 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: sbjc.org.uk
Lincolnshire Jewish Community T: 01427 628 958 E: email@example.com W: lincolnshirejc.co.uk
Southgate Progressive Synagogue T: 020 8886 0977 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: sps.uk.com
Manchester Liberal Jewish Community T: 0161 796 6210 E: email@example.com W: mljc.org.uk
The Montagu Centre 21 Maple Street London, W1T 4BE T: 020 7580 1663 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: liberaljudaism.org
Liberal Judaism is the dynamic, cutting edge of modern Judaism. It reverences Jewish tradition, seeking to preserve the values of the past, while giving them contemporary force. Charity Number: 1151090
lj today is edited by Simon Rothstein email@example.com Printed by Precision Printing. www.precisionprinting.co.uk
South London Liberal Synagogue (Streatham) T: 020 8769 4787 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: southlondon.org
Stevenage Liberal Synagogue T: 01438 300 222 E: email@example.com W: stevenageliberalsynagogue.org.uk Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community (Ipswich) T:01473 250 797 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Three Counties Liberal Jewish Community (Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) T: 07900 612 058 E: TBC W: TBC Tikvah Chadasha Synagogue (Shenfield) T: 01277 888 610 E: email@example.com W: tikvahchadasha.com Wessex Liberal Jewish Community (Bournemouth) T: 01202 757 590 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: wessexliberaljudaism.org.uk West Central Liberal Synagogue T: 020 7636 7627 E: email@example.com W: wcls.org.uk York Liberal Jewish Community T: 0300 102 0062 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: jewsinyork.org.uk Developing and affiliated Beit Ha’Chidush (Amsterdam) T: +31 23 524 7204 E: email@example.com W: beithachidush.nl Lancashire & Cumbria Liberal Jewish Community T: 0777 531 0944 W: northwestjews.org Oxford Jewish Congregation T: 01865 515 584 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: ojc-online.org
President Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein Chair Simon Benscher Deputy Chair Ruth Seager Vice Chair Karen Newman Treasurer Paul Silver-Myer Secretary Amanda McFeeters Israel and the Diaspora Graham Carpenter Strategy Robin Moss Social Justice Jane Drapkin Youth Hannah Stephenson National Officers Ros Clayton and Jackie Richards Vice Presidents Monique Blake, Henry Cohn, Lord Fink, Jeromé Freedman, Louise Freedman, Sharon Goldstein, Lucian Hudson, David Lipman, Corinne Oppenheimer, David Pick, Rosita Rosenberg, Tony Sacker, Harold Sanderson, Joan Shopper, Phil Stone, Beverley Taylor and Ken Teacher Chair of The Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors Rabbi Aaron Goldstein Senior Rabbi and C hief Executive Rabbi Danny Rich Director of Strategy and Partnerships Rabbi Charley Baginsky Music Rabbi Cantor Gershon Silins Operations Director Shelley Shocolinsky-Dwyer Director of Administration Alexandra Simonon Interfaith Rabbi Mark Solomon Community Partnerships Rabbi Sandra Kviat Archivist Alison Turner Fundraising and Events Thomas Rich Strategy and Communications Project Manager Yszi Hawkings PR Simon Rothstein PA to the Senior Rabbi and Outreach Rafe Thurstance Reception Ben Combe Director of Youth Becca Fetterman LJY-Netzer Fran Kurlansky, Rosa Slater and Jacob Swirsky