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March/April 2019 VOL. XLVI No. 2

Liberal Judaism is a constituent of the World Union for Progressive Judaism


Come and join our Celebration D AME MARGARET HODGE and Jean Gaffin OBE will present the keynote session at this year’s Liberal Judaism Day of Celebration. Our flagship event of 2019 takes place on Sunday 23 June at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS). The theme is ‘If I am only for myself...’, and the day will focus on the role of communities in supporting their members and how, in turn, we can empower members to support others.

Campaigning MP Dame Margaret Hodge will

be in conversation with Jean Gaffin OBE Margaret, a Labour MP and former Minister for Children, will be in conversation with Jean, an eminent figure in British healthcare. Both have a distinguished history of enacting social change: Margaret making policy and Jean carrying it out.

Margaret and Jean will be addressing their experiences and looking at the things communities can do to help build the fabric of society - either on their own or in collaboration with the state. The session will cover 70 years of social history in Britain, from the founding of the NHS right up to austerity and Brexit. This keynote will be part of a full programme of sessions celebrating and discussing the Jewish textual basis for community relationships, current best practice and the deeper questions around community responsibility vs state responsibility. Presenters will include senior Liberal Judaism rabbis and leaders, as well as outside speakers from a range of organisations and charities. Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, said: “The Day of Celebration will examine our theme on both the micro and macro level. “It will showcase all the wonderful things happening in our communities, such as Memory Matters in Northwood, Singing For The Mind at the LJS, the mental health work being done in Birmingham and the Salaam Shalom Kitchen in Nottingham. “But it will also ask wider questions about the role of a community. How can a community provide services that the state doesn’t? How can we best volunteer our time? And how much can we realistically expect to be able to do ourselves?” LJY-Netzer will be running a parallel programme for children aged between 6 and 15 and there will be a fully staffed crèche for the youngest delegates. Registration at the Day of Celebration will open at 9.30am with the event getting underway at 10.30am. It is scheduled to finish at 4.30pm. Tickets are £35 for adults, £15 for children/students or £70 for a family (maximum two adults).

For those looking to make a weekend of it, Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS) will once again host the LJ Music Day on Saturday 22 June. The theme will be ‘Music reflecting the text’ and it will look towards our new siddur and in what direction that might take our synagogue music. Some elements will then continue through into the music track at the Day of Celebration. To find out more about these two inspiring events, and book your Day of Celebration tickets, visit www. To enquire about travel subsidies, email Tom on

MAYOR OF LONDON Sadiq Khan joined Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, officer Jane Drapkin and social justice worker Charlotte Fischer (not pictured) to praise our movement’s social action. The Mayor stopped by to chat while the three were at City Hall discussing Liberal Judaism’s community organising work. The Mayor spoke glowingly about the most recent Citizens UK Assembly – where member institutions seek commitments on social justice from politicians – which he attended and many Liberal Judaism communities took part in.

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Learn the Liberal way LIBERAL JUDAISM’S Education Hub has entered its second term, providing even more opportunities to learn and think about Judaism, faith and philosophy. Taking place on Wednesday evenings at the Montagu Centre, in central London, classes are open to people of all faiths and none. Each session costs just £5. The new term runs from 20 February until 27 March (with no class on 20 March) and attendees can choose from: • Introduction to Judaism & Biblical Hebrew with Rabbis Danny Rich and Janet Burden • Judaism & Islam with Rabbi Mark Solomon and guest speakers - covering historical and cultural background, language, philosophy, mysticism and ethics. • Leyning & Parashat HaShavuah with Rabbi Nathan Godleman • Monthly Theology with Rabbi Charley Baginsky, looking at ‘The God of Rabbinic Literature’ (27 February) and ‘Does God Care about the World?’ (13 March). Classes last for two hours, from 7-9pm, and include a 20 minute break and light supper. An optional ma’ariv (evening) service begins at 6:30pm. You can choose to attend as many or as few classes as you desire, although it is recommend that those wishing to learn Leyning & Parashat HaShavuah should attend all five weeks of that class. For more information and to sign up please visit Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, said: “As a movement that prides itself on progression and inclusion, education must be at the heart of everything we do. This is why we have made it a priority to develop sustainable resources, both centrally and within our communities. Our ultimate vision is to increase our education platform so that it begins to motivate everything that we do.”

Deep theological questions discussed at Kallah

Liberal Judaism’s rabbis and cantors at Kallah (left) in Oxfordshire, where Rabbis Andrew Goldstein, Pete Tobias and Harry Jacobi share a joke

THE CONFERENCE OF LIBERAL RABBIS AND CANTORS held its annual Kallah (retreat) at Charney Manor, Oxfordshire, with the tranquil setting providing an inspirational backdrop to deep theological questions raised by Liberal Judaism’s new draft liturgy. The 25 colleagues studied feminist approaches and more generally the naming of God in liturgy, all very much informed by the introduction of feminine Hebrew in the draft Liberal siddur.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, said: “Our annual Kallah is vital to building trustful and supportive relationships that allow us to address vital issues in contemporary society that impact Judaism.” Liberal Jewish communities around the UK spent last year trialling the first draft of a new Shabbat morning service and sending their feedback. It was also used at Liberal Judaism’s Biennial Weekend.

The feedback will help shape the first new Liberal Jewish Siddur since 1995, which is being edited by Rabbis Elli Tikvah Sarah and Lea Mühlstein with the input and support of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors. The liturgy is designed to be fully accessible and inclusive. Aaron added: “The last year has highlighted how relevant Liberal Judaism’s adoption of feminist values is in our development of Judaism.”


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Rabbis swap pulpits for Liberal Judaism Shabbat

Liberal Judaism Shabbat was celebrated with a Tu Bishvat study breakfast in Suffolk, cake in Ealing and a Kabbalat Torah weekend in Finchley

LIBERAL communities across the UK celebrated Liberal Judaism Shabbat as rabbis swapped pulpits for the weekend to honour the yahrzeit of Lily Montagu, one of our movement’s founders. Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, led services at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS), where he celebrated the life of Lily Montagu by giving a sermon on the long-standing principles of Liberal Judaism. Ealing Liberal Synagogue welcomed Liberal Judaism’s president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein for an engaging Torah breakfast and service, alongside their own rabbi, Janet Burden. After a lively discussion about the historical authenticity 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. 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 congregations around the country. David led a breakfast study session around the meaning of the festival. This was 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 going 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 plenty of fruit, and the children joined in with lots of questions. “Monique was very well received in Birmingham where she introduced people to Musar, a Jewish spiritual practice that focuses on how to live a meaningful life.” Other Liberal communities taking part in Liberal Judaism Shabbat included East London & 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 that saw 43 teenagers from seven different Liberal communities come together at Finchley Progressive Synagogue. Run by a coalition of rabbis, cheder heads and LJY-Netzer movement workers, the Kabbalat Torah weekend is an annual tradition during which various classes from Liberal Judaism congregations come together to further their learning and explore their identity. This year’s included an exploration of London’s Liberal Jewish history, artistic and charitable projects and a full-blown Shrek-themed movie night/extravaganza.

Movement worker Ben Combe said: “Whether it was cooking dinner for a local homeless shelter, learning about the life of Lily Montagu from Rabbi Jackie Tabick – who was the first female rabbi ordained in the UK – or studying the principles of Torah, avodah and gemilut chasadim (study, work and acts of loving kindness), everyone had an incredible time. “The centrepiece of the weekend was unquestionably the exploration of London’s West End, where teams of young people followed the life of Lily Montagu, saw the original site of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and found clues to the history of Liberal Judaism. “With contingents of young people representing everywhere from Brighton to London to Nottingham, the future leaders of the Liberal Jewish community were inspired, engaged and enthralled by this fantastic weekend.”

The ramble continues… RABBI DAVID HULBERT may be taking a sabbatical from East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, but he is still busy leading services. David has been visiting and supporting smaller Progressive communities around the UK, earning him the nickname ‘Rambling Rabbi’. David has already led services in Peterborough, Bedford, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Herefordshire. He can next be found at Cambridge Reform Jewish Community on Saturday May 4 and Tikvah Chadasha in Brentwood on Saturday May 11.

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Liberal Judaism at Limmud Festival Yszi Hawkings on a week of eye-opening sessions and wonderful performances LIMMUD FESTIVAL once again welcomed almost 2,500 Jews from around the world to Birmingham for a week of diverse and eye-opening sessions and wonderful performances. This year’s Limmud was especially notable as it featured the largest representation from Liberal Judaism - as presenters, attendees and volunteers - in recent history. The programme included 17 presenters connected to Liberal Judaism or associated organisations with several rabbis, officers and members presenting on text, modern Jewish issues, Israel and interfaith topics. For the first time ever Leo Baeck Education Centre Haifa, one of the partners in the Alliance for Progressive Judaism’s Israel Desk, brought a delegation. Six students and Rabbi Oded Mazor took part in and led seminars, sharing their understanding of Israel, Judaism and Jewish peoplehood, as well as their dreams and goals for both themselves and their country. This year the programme shone a spotlight on Sephardi and Mizrachi Jewry. Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the senior rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi Community of the UK, was attending Limmud Festival for the first time.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein (left) with the students and staff of the Leo Baeck Education Centre

THE NLPS TRUST FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM is holding its next meeting in April 2019. The Trust funds large and small projects, examples of which can be seen at The Trust welcomes applications from Liberal Judaism congregations from across the UK and Europe.

Sessions focusing on non-Ashkenazi culture and Jewry included ‘Sephardi Voices: first hand stories from MENA Jews’, ‘Shabbat in an ashkenormative world’, ‘Rescue Mission: Inside the race to save Jewish heritage in the Middle East and North Africa’, ‘The cultural impact of Jews in Mexico’ and ‘The Iraqi Jewish archives’. Other highlights saw a day of activities LJY-Netzer bogrim Robert Simmons and Tom Smith were part of the Limmud Festival Team Picture by LS Photography run by Gefiltefest, two sessions presented by Wes Streeting MP, and Emily Thornberry in the evenings, stewarding the queues MP in conversation with Jon Lansman. for meals and providing technical support Another special guest was Dana for presenters. Thanks to the generosity International, who performed to a packed of The NLPS Trust, Liberal Judaism was room as well as being interviewed by able to offer a £50 subsidy to 12 members Yigal Ravid - the Israeli host of the 1999 who attended as part of the yad volunteer Eurovision Song Contest. programme or as madrichim (leaders) for Limmud is powered by volunteers and the youth programme. Limmud Festival is no exception. The A recent impact study about Limmud Festival Team worked all year to help showed that volunteering there leads create a fantastic event and a welcoming, to more engagement with the Jewish inclusive and creative environment for community in the long term. It was each and every individual. They are important for Liberal Judaism to make responsible for every part of the event this opportunity more affordable for from the food to the shuttle buses and the young adults and we hope to continue to programme to the accommodation. do this for many years going forward. The 2018 Festival Team included two To find out more about Limmud visit LJY-Netzer bogrim (graduates), Kingston and if you would like to Liberal Synagogue members Robert volunteer for the next Limmud Festival Simmons and Tom Smith, who were email responsible for managing the site and youth programme respectively. • Yszi Hawkings is Liberal Judaism’s There are also all those who volunteer strategy and communications project behind the scenes. Jews from all over manager. She is also part of the Limmud the country give up their time to take on Board, holding the technology, logistics a range of tasks such as staffing the bar and knowledge management portfolios.

If you would like to apply for funding for a particular project, please download a copy of the application form via the NLPS website and return it fully completed by Friday 29 March. The application will then be put up for consideration at the next Trust meeting, which will take place in April. Each year the Trust is able to make grants totalling around £60,000. These range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds. If you need assistance or information, please email

Speaking out RABBI DANNY RICH, Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, joined other prominent Jewish and Christian leaders in writing to The Times to speak out against the rise of antisemitism in the UK and the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. The letter was put together by the Council of Christians and Jews and other signatories included the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Orthodox Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner.


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Thanks for the Memory When Harry

blessed Harry

Members of the Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue Memory Matters team pick up their Jewish Care award from Ivor Baddiel (left) and Simon Lewis (right) Picture by Yakir Zur

MEMORY MATTERS – the club run by Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue (NPLS) for people suffering from memory loss and associated difficulties – has won a major award from Jewish Care. NPLS was named the ‘Outside Organisation That Makes a Significant Contribution to Jewish Care’ at the charity’s annual Betty and Aubrey Lynes Volunteer Awards. The NPLS team were presented with their prize by comedian and script writer Ivor Baddiel, who hosted the event, and Jewish Care chair Steven Lewis. The Memory Matters Club – a partnership between NPLS and Jewish Care – runs fortnightly at the synagogue and offers the opportunity for people to find a new hobby, revisit favourite pastimes and build friendships, as well as enjoy a three-course hot lunch with stimulating activities. NPLS care coordinator Angela Peters said: “We are all thrilled and delighted to receive this award. There really is


something stimulating for everyone at Memory Matters including gentle yoga, singing, discussion groups, arts and crafts, knitting and table-top games. “A team of 18 committed and dedicated volunteers organise and help to run the club and, together with Jewish Care, they are developing a meaningful and much needed programme for the community.” Synagogue chair Mimi Konigsberg added: “The whole NPLS community is so proud that our Memory Matters volunteers have won this Jewish Care award. This partnership scheme has grown from small beginnings to a vital service that makes a difference in the lives of our community.“ The dinner and awards ceremony was held in Friern Barnet with winners ranging in age from 15 to 97. Jewish care chief executive Daniel Carmel Brown thanked all those who give their time, saying: “We simply wouldn’t be the organisation we are today without the support of our volunteers.”

East London & Essex

LIBERAL JUDAISM vice president Rabbi Harry Jacobi MBE had the honour of blessing his great-grandson and namesake, Harry Newham, during a celebratory baby naming service at East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue. The service was led by Rabbi Harry’s son, and baby Harry’s grandfather, Rabbi Richard Jacobi, who was joined on the bimah by proud parents Josh (pictured with the two Harrys) and Philippa.

A very Green conversion

GREEN PARTY councillor Andree Frieze was formally welcomed into Judaism at an Admission Ceremony at Kingston Liberal Synagogue (KLS). Andree has been an active member of KLS since 2012 along with husband Shimon Morad and their sons Natan and Guy (all pictured above at the ceremony with Rabbi Charley Baginsky).


Tu Bishvat was celebrated at Liberal communities around the UK with services, sedarim, tree planting and themed activities

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Facing up to our own death Training day By Richard Conradi DO YOU live life for today without planning for tomorrow? If you answered ‘yes’, what happens if you are taken seriously ill? If you have a stroke or a heart attack or when you die? Janice Turner recently wrote in The Times: “Life would be better if we faced up to death. While distracting ourselves with small talk and shopping, the really important conversations are put off until too late. My father died in the early hours and when his carer called to tell me she asked about ‘arrangements’. Only then did I realise he hadn’t made any. I now have many regrets. Like failing to face the inevitable, not making plans, not telling him how much I loved him… and not asking him about his affairs”. So do your relatives know: • What to do when the time comes? • Where you keep your will? • If you have signed and registered a Lasting Power of Attorney and, if so, where it is kept? • Your bank details? • Your digital legacy like the passcodes to your smartphone or tablet and the passwords to your online accounts?

All of us, whatever our stage in life, should plan now for the future and should tell our families what we want at the end of our lives. To help us all to do this Liberal Judaism has made available an Advance Personal Information pack. It can be downloaded from the Liberal Judaism website at and is also available from many other websites including NHS London. This pack will take you through the many questions you need to answer. You can print it out and complete it by hand or you can download it to your computer, fill it out digitally and then copy it to a USB drive. Whatever happens make sure you then store a copy, maybe alongside your will, and make sure to tell your relatives where it is. Rabbi Aaron Goldstein gave a recent sermon at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue emphasising the importance of us all speaking about death especially with our loved ones with whom we share life. British people, he said, are notorious for avoiding talking about this, instead preferring to chat about the weather. So please don’t put it off. Download your copy today – it will be a gift to your family. Tomorrow might be too late!

Transforming Human Rights conversations at the forefront THE LIBERAL JEWISH SYNAGOGUE (LJS) in St Johns Wood will be running an eight week course this spring examining the ground-breaking book Deep Calls to Deep: Transforming Conversations Between Christians and Jews. The book – a series of essays edited by Rabbi Tony Bayfield – has won acclaim in both the Jewish and Christian spheres with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the country’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, describing it as “remarkable”. Hosted by the LJS, in partnership with The London Society of Jews and Christians, the course will take place on Tuesday evenings from 8-9.30pm from 5 March – 26 March and 30 April – 21 May. Each session will be hosted by the Jewish and Christian clergy and scholars who wrote the corresponding chapter in the book, including Rabbi Alexandra Wright and Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah. Participants are welcome to attend individual sessions or the entire course. To register, please contact Debi Penhey on or 0207 432 1284.

MORE than 15 Liberal communities took part in Human Rights Shabbat, a programme of services and seminars organised by René Cassin. Displaying the diversity of the Liberal movement each community marked the occasion in a different way. Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue included human rights in their service, with Rabbi Aaron Goldstein also speaking about it on the Jewish Views podcast. In Brighton, Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah gave a powerful sermon that René Cassin are also running on their website. Liberal Judaism officer Graham Carpenter was the guest speaker at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, talking about his work for Tzedek – a Jewish charity which works to fight extreme poverty overseas. Events also took place at Bristol & West Progressive Jewish Congregation, Kingston Liberal Synagogue and The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, where all services including the children’s service marked the occasion.

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ALYTH SYNAGOGUE hosted 175 people, from 24 Progressive communities, for Liberal and Reform Judaism’s biggest ever joint teacher training day. The event offered 21 different sessions to choose from including those exploring special educational needs, LGBTQI+ students and mental health awareness, as well as crafting, Torah, Hebrew, Jewish technology and prayer. It was run by Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Sandra Kviat and Reform’s Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers. Debbie said: “This was our largest teacher training day yet. It was really phenomenal to see so many of our amazing heads, teachers and assistants giving up even more of their weekend to invest in themselves and thus the future of our communities.” Next year’s teacher training day will take place on Sunday 5 January 2020.

Volunteer for Lily’s Legacy WE NEED your help on our latest groundbreaking oral history project - Lily’s Legacy: The Radical History & Heritage of Liberal Judaism in Britain. We are delighted to offer a range of opportunities to volunteer. These include conducting oral history interviews, transcription, audio and video production, archive research and exhibition curation. For more details please email Shaan on or visit

Burns Night bash BURNS NIGHT was enjoyed by some 40 people on a very special Erev Shabbat at South London Liberal Synagogue. Siddurim, a Talmudic story, veggie haggis, whisky tasting, Scottish dances and kilts were all part of the festivities.


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Clergy spread the message on the BBC

A NUMBER of Liberal Judaism clergy have already appeared on BBC television and radio in 2019 helping to spread our movement’s ideals and values. Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue was part of the panel on BBC One’s hit discussion show The Big Questions. Elli took part in a spirited debate entitled ‘Is feminism in crisis?’, during which she spoke about the many schools of feminism and argued that we must ultimately acknowledge that male power is the problem. Responding to a guest who spoke about “traditional feminists”, Elli replied: “I think we shouldn’t use terms like ‘traditional feminist’, as there are many different schools of feminism. There have always been huge debates about what we should be doing. “There are lots of different ways of expressing but we do tend to homogenise and say ‘this is the way it should be’ and exclude other voices. “I know in the 1980s that I, as a Jewish woman and a lesbian, needed to express those things and I found that people who wanted to make it a narrow path made me feel that I couldn’t be part of it. That is a very dangerous thing.”

Show host Rachel Burden then asked: “You would describe yourself as gender queer, as non binary, but do you feel there is a space for the entire spectrum within feminism?” Elli replied: “There absolutely is. The enemy, to use an old-fashioned word, is patriarchy. It is male power that is the problem.” Student Rabbi Anna Posner and Cantor Tamara Wolfson appeared on a BBC TV and radio show profiling London’s young faith leaders. Anna is a former LJY-Netzer movement worker and is studying for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College. Tamara serves both Kehillah North London and Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue. They live together in London. In the show, titled London’s Young and Faithful, Anna and Tamara talk about their relationship, their route to the pulpit and how they are putting a modern spin on faith and belief. The programme also profiled a young vicar, an imam and a humanist minister. Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, the chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, used music to make his points as he has picked out his People’s Playlist,

appearing on the popular BBC Three Counties Radio show where guests tell their life stories through songs. He discussed everything from the success of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue – where he took over from his father, Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, as the senior minister – to what he has learned about life from his wife Tammy and their daughters Liora and Shaya. After playing artists including Led Zeppelin and Chance The Rapper, Aaron concluded by talking about Liberal Judaism’s history of busting boundaries. He said: “Right from our founding in 1902, Liberal Judaism was a radical organisation. Women had complete equality, way more than a decade before suffrage in this country. Personally, I have been part of the campaign towards equal rights for LBGTQI+ people. I was delighted that the first wedding my children ever experienced was for two women at Nottingham Liberal Synagogue. They didn’t bat an eyelid. It was just normal to them, as I hope it will be going into the future. “I believe in inclusivity. The more you include people, rather than exclude them, the better the society you end up with.”

Historical documents added to the web By Bryan Diamond KEY DOCUMENTS from Liberal Judaism’s history can now be downloaded from There you will also find a description by the present archivist, Alison Turner, of the scope of the archive. The Prayer Books lists all the Liberal liturgies I found when I was the archivist, updated to 2010, written for Liberal Judaism (previously known as the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues), The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and a

few other congregations. I was inspired to write this by a lecture by Rabbi John Rayner on the origins of the Liberal liturgy. The list can be useful for making a creative liturgy drawing on the past; copies of almost all the books are in the archive. It will, of course, need updating with the new siddur. The Origins is a 10-page listing of original documents in the archive, from 1900, including newspaper and magazine published articles, typescripts and committee minutes. In 1902 there were over 60 items, showing the extensive activities of the pioneers of the movement

and how its activities were reported in the Jewish and other press. These records were perused by Rabbi Lawrence Rigal in his writing, along with Rosita Rosenberg, of Liberal Judaism: The First Hundred Years (LJ, 2004). However many of the papers are fragile, especially the newspapers, and access has to be restricted. Recently the London Metropolitan Archive has taken much of this fragile material along with many of the prayer books. Alison will issue a revised catalogue of the Montagu Centre holdings shortly and then write an article for a future lj today.

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Facing the future with confidence Owen Power writes about the growth of Manchester Liberal Jewish Community

Owen Power with Student Rabbi Lev Taylor

I AM a member of Manchester Liberal Jewish Community (MLJC), a small emerging shul with a strong ethos on inclusivity and accessibility. I am D/deaf, queer, an active campaigner on diversity and equality issues and a member of the Labour Party… factors which don’t always make for a good fit into a traditional Jewish community. But since I joined MLJC about seven years ago, it has been all I could have hoped for and more.

I was drawn to MLJC by what I read about the community’s spiritual leader at the time - Rabbi Mark Solomon. By all accounts he was a superb singer, strong on liturgy, strong on learning and he was gay, out and proud. What’s not to like! Mark certainly lived up to the hype and I soon settled into the community. It was marvellous to be part of a shul in which LGBTQI+ people were fully welcomed and played key roles. I made new friends and, before long, I was encouraged to get actively involved myself. Phyllis and Len Alden, the backbone of MLJC, suggested I took on the role of social action coordinator, which is very much in my DNA as well as an important part of being a Liberal Jew. I now share information about campaigns, projects and educational events I think other members might be interested in on the MLJC’s Facebook page. The page also serves as an opportunity for us all to engage with each other. Not everyone likes social media though so there also members, like Arlene and Ronnie de Vries, who will come to me for coffee and a chat instead. Over the years MLJC has had its ups and downs and, with a fluctuating membership, for a time it survived on a month to month basis. But a group of members were determined to hang in there and we were rewarded by the arrival of Student Rabbi Lev Taylor about two years ago. Lev lives in London, where he is a student at Leo

Baeck College, and travels to Manchester to lead services and study sessions. Since his arrival, MLJC has been undergoing a period of regeneration and renaissance. Lev has a passion to make MLJC a thriving congregation for everyone including making the community fully accessible to people with disabilities, whatever they might be. Our venue is wheelchair friendly and the loos are gender neutral. Lev’s services and classes are informal so everyone is chilled and free to sit, stand, move seat, pop to the loo or simply have a break in a quiet spot outside. Likewise our bring and share suppers and communal seders are very laid back affairs, providing an opportunity to relax in good company and share culinary skills if one is so inclined. Lev happily makes himself available to members electronically, by phone and indeed in person. He came to me for dinner during the summer and it was great to chat about communications in the context of D/deaf people. One of the many positive outcomes of our dinner was that he inspired me to write about Jewish views on disability. My drosha (sermon expanding on the meaning of a piece of Torah) was later published by the Times of Israel. The path ahead for MLJC is looking good as we attract more members through social media and word of mouth. There is much to look forward to as we face the future with confidence.

Meeting vital needs in the community Joe Seager on the helping hand provided by Birmingham Progressive Synagogue FROM a perpetual supply of items to feed the hungry to generous support for refugees facing severe setbacks in their lives, members of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue (BPS) have reached out to provide care and compassion in considerable measure. The full level of such thoughtful acts of goodwill sets a glowing example of volunteers stepping up to the front line to meet an urgent need to counter poverty and hunger in the local community. BPS has reached a high bench mark in keeping its Food Bank well stocked to guarantee a square meal for those who would otherwise go hungry.

Benita Wishart, one of the key members serving the shul’s ‘Must Help’ cause, is actively engaged in easing the plight of women refugees caught up in a hostile environment. Essential household items and other vital needs are made available at a centre that was set up for them in Birmingham. Benita said: “They are already on very low levels of benefit and if their claims are turned down they can easily become destitute. We are there to answer their desperate calls for help.” Refugees also derive enormous benefit from the welcome they receive at open meetings held at BPS. They enjoy

teas they are given and gain much from sharing time with members. They find this does much to improve their English. BPS member Isobel Gregory received a heart-warming response to her appeal to make Chanukah a time for serving another worthy cause. She received hundreds of pairs of socks and boxes of chocolates to give to refugees and the homeless as Christmas presents. Isobel said: “Our members really took this appeal to their hearts and made it a phenomenal success.” • Joe Seager is a member of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue


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Remembering victims of genocide JEWS around the country join with people of all faiths, and none, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). Services, ceremonies and events were held to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, as well as the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. This year’s theme was ‘Torn From Home’, encouraging reflection on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. Here are details of just some of the Liberal Jewish involvement in HMD 2019:

In Kingston... MORE THAN 1,000 school children attended a Holocaust education project run by Kingston Liberal Synagogue and their Orthodox neighbours. The project, now in its 14th year, consisted of 12 half-day workshops. At each, a Holocaust survivor or second generation relative gave a talk, which was followed by a Q&A session and small group activities. Short films were shown about the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, as well as more recent genocides such as the one in Rwanda.

Each workshop then concluded with a memorial ceremony in which each pupil lit a candle of remembrance and handed a card to the speaker which contained a personal message to them. The vast majority of the pupils who took part in the project are not Jewish. Southborough High School teacher Matthew Iles said: “Our students benefit greatly from meeting members of the Jewish community; learning about the sufferings of the past from people directly affected; and thinking about how to prevent such dark moments from happening again.”

At the Foreign Office... RABBI HARRY JACOBI MBE, a vice president of Liberal Judaism who twice fled the Nazis, gave the final blessing at the Foreign Office commemoration. The highlight of the event - which was also attended by Rabbi Charley Baginsky - saw Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt unveil a bust of Frank Foley. Frank was an MI6 officer at the British embassy in Berlin who helped thousands of Jewish families escape Germany after Kristallnacht.

In Lambeth... THE HMD commemoration in Lambeth is put together each year by a cross-community group, which includes South London Liberal Synagogue. This year around 200 people heard from Holocaust survivor George Vulkan. There were also readings and songs performed by pupils from local schools.

In Eastbourne... LOCAL author Dorit Oliver-Wolff retold her inspirational life story of bravery and fortitude, which enabled her to survive the Holocaust and become a singer. She also recounted stories from her book From Yellow Star to Pop Star. Opened by Eastbourne Mayor Councillor Gill Mattock, the event also included the testimony of a Rwandan genocide survivor, a retelling of the Belsen Concentration Camp liberation and performances by the International Voice Orchestra, who backed the chair of Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community (ELJC) Larry Navon on one of his original songs, Boat Peoples, then reprised that at ELJC’s Friday night service.

In Parliament...

In Northwood...

LIBERAL JUDAISM’S heritage project manager Surat-Shaan Knan attended the HMD event at Speaker’s House in Parliament, which included meeting Holocaust survivor Simon Gronowski (picture by David Prior of Navy Studios). The plot of the opera PUSH is based on Simon’s story of courage and survival.

SYNAGOGUES of all denominations - including Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue - once more teamed up for Northwood Holocaust Memorial Day Events. The annual project provides a unique opportunity for thousands of local school students to: meet a Holocaust survivor and/or one of their descendants; hear their testimony; and work in small groups with trained facilitators to explore the relationship between the past and key issues that young people face today such as racism, bullying and discrimination. Each synagogue hosts morning and afternoon workshops throughout January and February.

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March/April 2019

A powerful and admirable book Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, 1933-1945 by Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein (ISBN: 9780822945178) REVIEWED by Pam Fox SINCE I had read several of Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein’s previous works, and had drawn on some of them to assist in my own writings, I was delighted to be asked to review his latest book Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, 1933-1945. Despite being somewhat daunted when the book arrived in the post – it is a magnum opus approaching 1,200 pages – it proved extraordinarily easy to navigate. After a helpful explanatory introduction, it consists of a vast selection of full sermons and extracts, presented chronologically, delivered by 159 religious leaders from 15 different countries, but mostly from the UK and the US. I am in awe of Marc Saperstein’s scholarship in gathering, collating and organising his material, much of which has been taken from hitherto neglected collections. Readers are guided through the sermons by his enormously helpful footnotes and references.

Several themes emerge from the sermons – an ever-increasing realisation of impending disaster on an unimaginable scale; the depth of knowledge of what was happening notwithstanding later assertions of ignorance, uttered by both Jews and non-Jews; the way in which the majority of preachers maintained their faith and continued to look for any good that might emerge from the persecution and mass murder; and how they related the contemporary horrors to ancient examples of persecution. As a Liberal Jew, I naturally turned first to the sermons of Progressive rabbis and was moved by their penetrating analysis of events and the candidness with which they communicated information, seeking to rouse and inspire their congregants to an awareness of the oppression and massacre of European Jews. A few years ago, I spent several months studying the sermons of Rabbi Dr Israel Mattuck, the first religious leader of Liberal Judaism. Mattuck’s sermons reproduced in this book reminded me of his remarkable skills as an orator. They are crystal clear and filled with courage and fortitude, sensing that the future of civilisation was at stake. Marc Saperstein has been even-handed in his selection of sermons and the book also includes many from Orthodox rabbis.

The sermons that moved me most were those delivered by preachers who had been closest to what was happening. Particularly poignant is the sermon by Yitzhak Katz delivered in the Warsaw Ghetto in January 1942 in which he berates those Jews who had not helped their hungry and needy co-religionists. He laments: “With a flood of blood around us we must not deliberate, but do. We must immediately resort to compulsion. The sooner we tackle the emergency and save some lives, the closer we come to salvation and consolation.” After reading this admirable book, I was only left with the regret that, at the time the sermons were delivered, the technology did not exist to record the services. As authoritative as they might be in written form, many would probably have been even more powerful, due to the oratorical skills of the preachers. Over the years Marc Saperstein has become the recognised expert in using the text of sermons delivered by Jewish preachers to examine historical events, but with this book he has reached a scholastic pinnacle. Although he states that he is not a Holocaust historian, the contemporaneous accounts of the catastrophe bring home the developing cataclysm in a much more powerful way than many other retrospective analyses.

A monumental piece of scholarship The Qur’an & the Bible: Text and Commentary by Gabriel Said Reynolds with Qur’an translation by Ali Quli Qarai (ISBN: 9780300181326) REVIEWED by Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh MANY of us are familiar with the Jewish Study Bible and possibly also The Jewish Annotated New Testament. That familiarity will have demonstrated beyond doubt the value of a good scholarly commentary to a sacred text. With The Qur’an & the Bible, Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds, who has the chair in Islamic Studies and theology at Notre Dame University, brings a sharp and impeccable scholarly eye to the Qur’an, specifically with regard to discernible influences – and more – from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.

Reynolds acknowledges the charged nature of scholarly analysis of the Qur’an, specifically when what is known as Isra’ilyyat, the direct Jewish influences on the text of the Qur’an, is debated. Yet he courageously and emphatically states that rather than the Qur’an’s background being largely pagan, it is closely and organically related to the Hebrew Bible with later hadiths also influenced by Jewish and Christian texts. Using what he considers the best English translation of the Qur’an to date, he annotates the entire text, identifying

the echoes of Jewish and Christian sources and also including, where relevant, Islamic commentaries. For Jewish readers who wish to read the Qur’an from start to finish, this is the best book from which to read it. For those unlikely to read the whole thing but keen to follow up specific surahs (chapters) there is an excellent index to save time. The Qur’an & the Bible is a monumental piece of scholarship and also a very approachable source of learning about one of the most important books of the Abrahamic faiths.


March/April 2019

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

for A successful Veidah Something the holidays

The new LJY-Netzer Board of members aged 16-25 will take decisions for the youth movement

LJY-NETZER kicked off the year in style with our annual Veidah decision-making event. For four days, members gathered in Northwood to set the tone for the coming 12 months. Among our decisions were those to begin offering British Sign Language lessons, train our madrichim (leaders) on inclusivity for people with mental and physical disabilities, and to create our very first Board of Bogrim and Galim.

Bogrim and Galim are our older members, aged 16 - 25, and this Board will represent LJY-Netzer going forward including making decisions, putting out statements and representing the movement at events. The Board will be releasing their first statement shortly. So stay tuned as LJY begins the next step in its journey with the leaders of the future taking on a central role in our development.

OUR spring and summer programmes are fast approaching. With Machaneh Aviv (spring camp) this April, followed by Machaneh Kadimah (summer camp) in August, there’s only a few months to wait before LJY-Netzer’s incredible flagship events begin again. Join us for weeks of fun, games and Jewish learning for anyone aged 8-15. This year we’re excited to announce that we’ll be doing more social action than ever. Nechalim (school years 7-8) and Chalutzim (school year 10) will be taking part in additional social action events as mandated by Veidah. Plus there’s all the usual magical, creative, fun and engaging activities that mean our camps give those on them the Liberal Jewish experience of their lives. Stay tuned to LJY-Netzer’s social media feeds to find out more. Sign-ups are open for both events, so visit to secure your place!

LJY goes global for Netzer Olami REPRESENTATIVES from LJY-Netzer recently travelled to Israel for a week of learning and decision-making at the international Netzer Olami Veidah event (pictured left). For those who don’t know, Netzer is the global Reform Zionist Youth Movement that LJY is a part of. It helps create links between us and tens of thousands of Progressive Jews from around the world. The week was an incredible success, as it brought together ideas from five different continents to grow our youth movements. We were also able to make new connections and use our position as an established movement to aid our sibling groups all over the globe.

Contact LJY-Netzer: Ben Combe (, Helen Goldhill ( and Ellie Lawson (; Director of Youth - Rebecca Fetterman (

March/April 2019

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Liberal congregations Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue T: 0845 869 7105 E: W:

Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community T: 0131 777 8024 E: W:

Beit Klal Yisrael (London) E: W:

Finchley Progressive Synagogue T: 020 8446 4063 E: W:

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue T: 0121 634 3888 E: W: Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue T: 01273 737 223 E: W: Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation T: 0117 403 3456 E: W: Crawley Jewish Community T: 01293 534 294 Crouch End Chavurah E: W: Dublin Progressive Congregation E: W:

Ealing Liberal Synagogue T: 020 8997 0528 E: W: East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue T: 0208 989 7619 E: W: eastlondonandessexliberal Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community T: 07497 401 280 E: W:

Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community T: 01242 260 497 E: W: Herefordshire Jewish Community T: 01594 530 721 E: W: Kehillah North London T: 020 7403 3779 E: W: Kent Liberal Jewish Community T: 07952 242 432 E: W: Kingston Liberal Synagogue T: 020 8398 7400 E: W: Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation T: 0116 271 5584 E: W: The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (St John’s Wood) T: 020 7286 5181 E: W: The Liberal Synagogue Elstree T: 020 8953 8889 E: W:

The Montagu Centre 21 Maple Street London, W1T 4BE T: 020 7580 1663 E: W:

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Lincolnshire Jewish Community T: 01427 628 958 E: W: Manchester Liberal Jewish Community T: 0161 796 6210 E: W:

South London Liberal Synagogue (Streatham) T: 020 8769 4787 E: W: Stevenage Liberal Synagogue T: 01438 300 222 E: W:

Mosaic Liberal (Harrow) T: 020 8864 5323 E: W:

Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community (Ipswich) T:01473 250 797 E:

Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue T: 01923 822 592 E: W:

Tikvah Chadasha Synagogue (Shenfield) T: 01277 888 610 E: W:

Norwich Liberal Jewish Community E: W:

Wessex Liberal Jewish Community (Bournemouth) T: 01202 757 590 E: W:

Nottingham Liberal Synagogue T: 0115 962 4761 E: W:

Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community T: 07561 331 390 E: W: Reading Liberal Jewish Community T: 0118 942 8022 E: readingliberaljewishcommunity@

W: Shir Hatzafon (Copenhagen) E: W: South Bucks Jewish Community T: 0845 644 2370 E: W: Southgate Progressive Synagogue T: 020 8886 0977 E: W:

West Central Liberal Synagogue T: 020 7636 7627 E: W: York Liberal Jewish Community T: 0300 102 0062 E: W:

Developing and affiliated Beit Ha’Chidush (Amsterdam) T: +31 23 524 7204 E: W: Lancashire & Cumbria Liberal Jewish Community W: Oxford Jewish Congregation T: 01865 515 584 E: W:

President Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein Chair Simon Benscher Deputy Chair Ruth Seager Vice Chair Karen Newman Treasurer Rosie Ward Secretary Amanda McFeeters Israel and the Diaspora Graham Carpenter Data Ed Herman Social Justice Jane Drapkin Strategy Robin Moss National Officers Ros Clayton and Jackie Richards Vice Presidents Monique Blake, Henry Cohn, Lord Fink, Jeromé Freedman, Louise Freedman, Rabbi Dr David Goldberg, Sharon Goldstein, Lucian Hudson, Rabbi Harry Jacobi, Willie Kessler, David Lipman, Corinne Oppenheimer, David Pick, Rosita Rosenberg, Tony Sacker, Harold Sanderson, Joan Shopper, Beverly 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 Community Partnerships Rabbi Sandra Kviat Music Cantor Gershon Silins Interfaith Rabbi Mark Solomon Operations Director Shelley Shocolinsky-Dwyer Director of Administration Alexandra Simonon Fundraising and Events Thomas Rich Strategy and Communications Project Manager Yszi Hawkings PR Simon Rothstein Archivist Alison Turner Acting PA to the Senior Rabbi Rafe Thurstance Director of Youth Becca Fetterman LJY-Netzer Ben Combe, Helen Goldhill and Ellie Lawson

Profile for Liberal Judaism

LJ Today Mar/Apr 2019  

LJ Today Mar/Apr 2019